Network for Enriched Academic Relationships (NEAR)

The Network for Enriched Academic Relationships, guiding students to success.

The Network for Enriched Academic Relationships (NEAR) is a UB-wide interdisciplinary mentoring network for graduate students. Through NEAR, students can find mentors regarding issues that lie beyond coursework, comps and dissertations. Our hope is that by connecting with mentors who have experience navigating obstacles (e.g., systemic bias, personal hardship) or who can be effective allies, more students—and more diverse students—will feel supported and emboldened in their own careers.

We believe caring and candid mentoring is crucial to widening the range of student scholars who thrive at UB and who will transform our intellectual communities.

How it Works

  1. Interested UB faculty and staff submit their information indicating issues they are willing to discuss with a student.
  2. Students search the NEAR directory below, to find a mentor(s) open to discussing a relevant issue.
  3. Students reach out to mentors with whom they would like to connect.
  4. The mentor and student meet up however and whenever they wish.

NEAR Faculty Director

We want to share some news about a change in leadership of our NEAR Faculty Director. Founding Director, Dr. Laina Bay-Cheng, has left UB to join York University in the role of Professor and Associate Vice-President Faculty Affairs. We are grateful to Laina for her leadership in the founding of NEAR and her advocacy for graduate student mentoring.

Dr. Annahita Ball, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, has agreed to become the Faculty Director of NEAR. Anna’s work, teaching, and mentoring, which emphasizes equity, inclusion, and a whole-person approach to graduate student success, will give us new insights and strategies to support mentors and students alike. We look forward to her leadership on the critical role of supporting graduate students as they navigate the academic and personal accomplishments and challenges of graduate school.

Want to be a mentor?

Are you a UB faculty or staff member who would like to participate in the NEAR program? Register to be a NEAR mentor now.

If you have questions or if you are a mentor and would like to edit or remove your profile, please contact