An Interdisciplinary Approach to Mentoring, Reflection, and Student Engagement: Initial Findings from a Liberal Arts Pilot Study


  • Jim B. Fatzinger Vanderbilt University



Peer Mentoring, Pedagogy, Program Innovation


A Research Working Group conducted as part of an American Council on Education (ACE) Learning Laboratory (2022) concluded that “mentoring relationships are fundamentally developmental and learner-centered.” These relationships are “distinct from other meaningful relationships in that they: (1) Promote academic, social, personal, cultural, and career-focused learning and development in intentional, sustained, and integrative ways, (2) Evolve over time, becoming more reciprocal and mutually beneficial, [and] (3) Are individualized, attending to mentees’ developing strengths and shifting needs, mentors’ expertise, and all members’ identities.” In addition, application of Gallup’s “Big Six” College Experiences Linked to Life Preparedness further supports these findings. This pilot project, a collaboration between the School of Business and School of Education at a selective Liberal Arts Institution, presents the initial findings from the Instructor of Record and Peer Mentors in BUS1110: Gateway to Business courses. These initial findings might be utilized by readers as a way of augmenting and/or enhancing classroom learning applicable in their own courses with the goal of preparing students for what Ted Mitchell, President, ACE in Weaver et al. (2023), refers to as “a world of uncertainty, imperfect information,” at times, “unrelenting pressure…” The application of “real world insights” enhances students’ intellectual development and classroom pedagogical approaches.


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Author Biography

Jim B. Fatzinger, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Fatzinger completed a Doctorate of Education at Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education and Human Development, a Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, and a MBA/BBA from the University of Miami. A former Presidential Fellow at Auburn University, Dr. Fatzinger's fellowship included donor relations, governmental relations, media, alumni relations, athletics, audit and compliance, facilities, and shared governance. In his role, he also contributed learning outcomes, assessment, and suggested course activities to an eText entitled, A President's Perspective: The Administration of Higher Education. His work on the project included finding the publisher for the eText.

Dr. Fatzinger completed post-graduate work in History, Politics, and Society at the University of Oxford, England, the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, and was a member of the Fulbright Specialist Roster. He finished as a Semi-finalist for the White House Fellowship and was selected as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow hosted by Clemson University. While an ACE Fellow, Dr. Fatzinger's projects included promotion and tenure review and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) D1 rulebook revisions. Upon his return, he served as a co-mentor for an ACE Fellow hosted by his home institution. He is currently the Chairperson of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Metropolitan Business School Affinity Group, Co-Chairperson of the ACE Outreach and Engagement Committee, and President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Fulbright Association. He has also served as a member of a SACS/COC on-site evaluation team. 

Having taught undergraduate and graduate Business courses for over a decade and as a member of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering faculty, Dr. Fatzinger's national presentations include AACSB, AAC&U, Emory, IUPUI, NASPA, and SACS/COC. He has also presented at Brown University, Emory University, Stanford University, the United States Air Force Academy, and the University of Miami. Dr. Fatzinger has published in Dean and ProvostCollege Athletics and the LawThe Successful Registrar, and Student Affairs Today. He is currently contributing to a book on teaching and learning "best practices." Dr. Fatzinger's consulting experience includes developing and teaching a Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute.

Dr. Fatzinger's grant work includes work with the American Council on Education (ACE) Innovation Lab supported by the Lumina Foundation, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), the Supervision of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Campus Suicide and Prevention Grant, and a National Science Foundation (NSF) Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences 5-year grant implementation strategy.

Dr. Fatzinger's fundraising experience includes naming and organizing the University of Miami Citizens Board Research and Creativity Forum, encouraging annual campaign giving with the American Council on Education, institutional-wide policy development on donor gifts including the naming of institutional buildings, and founding a Society of Fellows. His experience also includes meeting with national and state government officials on budget allocation topics at a variety of institutional types and in support of the U.S. Fulbright Program.

Teaching Strategy courses at Elon, Dr. Fatzinger served as a Senior Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer responsible for developing the "Integrated Educational Experience" at the first four-year public institution of the 21st century growing the student enrollment from 118 students to a sustained enrollment of over 10,000 students. Serving over a decade in the role, he managed a $5M annual budget, opened over $130M in new construction, and worked with the Academic Deans Council in the development of institution-wide learning outcomes, assessment, and evaluation as part of a comprehensive strategic plan. Having achieved SACS/COC accreditation faster than any institution in history and after a perfect review of his areas of responsibility, he was recognized for his accomplishments on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Prior to being recruited to build Georgia Gwinnett College, Dr. Fatzinger served as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Miami where he worked regularly with Graduate Program Coordinators overseeing enrollment strategies for some150 graduate programs spanning 3 campuses. Having overseen the development of a national award-winning recruiting CD, the project was featured on television during Hurricane Sports coverage. At the University of Miami, his responsibilities included the most competitive institutional fellowships including the University of Miami Fellowship, Maytag Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation Fellowship. He founded the Black Graduate Student Association, advised the Graduate Student Association, and developed centralized Teaching Assistant Training. He was also responsible for drafting the institution's graduate disciplinary policy and was a guest speaker in the University of Miami Law School. As the Director of Freshman Programs and Associate Director of the Academic Development Center at the University of Miami, Dr. Fatzinger developed the University of Miami Freshman Experience Program and the academic alert retention/intervention process.

Dr. Fatzinger's recognitions include the University of Miami Administrator of the Year and the University of Miami Outstanding Dedication Award for “exemplary leadership and admirable dedication to the Graduate Student Association, and the Graduate Student Body,” He has also been recognized for his innovative teaching practices. He is a member of Iron Arrow, the highest honor attained at the University of Miami, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, Order of Omega Honor Society, Beta Gamma Sigma, Alpha Epsilon Lambda National Graduate Honor Society, and Honorary membership in the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success. Dr. Fatzinger is an Eagle Scout and served on the National Junior Leader Instructor Camp Staff at Philmont Scout Ranch. He has served in leadership roles with the Boy Scouts of America in Korea, Holland, and at National Jamborees at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. He was also a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame USA Water Polo Team to Sweden.

Prior to his career in higher education, Dr. Fatzinger authored the Chief Pilot's Resource Manual for American Airlines, revised system-wide boarding announcements for American Trans Air (ATA) Airline, and contracted with Midway Airlines.


American Council on Education. (2022, February 18). Mentoring for learner success: Final report of the American Council on Education’s Learner Success Laboratory.

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Gabelnick, F., MacGregor, J., Matthews, R. S., & Smith, B. L. (1990). Learning communities: Creating connections among students, faculty, and disciplines. Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Goodrich, A. (2021). Online peer mentoring and remote learning. Music Education Research, 23(2), 256–269.

Keeling, R., Underhile, R., Wall, A. F., & Dungy, G. J. (2008). Assessment reconsidered: Institutional effectiveness for student success. International Center for Student Success and Institutional Accountability.

Seymour, S., & Lopez, S. (2015). “Big Six” college experiences linked to life preparedness. Gallup.

Weaver, G. C., Rabbitt, K. M., Summers, S. W., Phillips, R., Hottenstein, K. N., & Cole, J. M. (2023). Acute crisis leadership in higher education: Lessons from the pandemic. Routledge.



How to Cite

Fatzinger, J. B. (2023). An Interdisciplinary Approach to Mentoring, Reflection, and Student Engagement: Initial Findings from a Liberal Arts Pilot Study. Journal of Character and Leadership Development, 10(3), 71–76.