Extant literature on relationship marketing tends to focus on for-profit firms and their relationships with important stakeholders. However, higher education institutions face many of the same intense competitive forces that have made relationship marketing a practical choice for many for-profit firms. Therefore, it is not surprising that many are adopting relationship marketing strategies. In the context of higher education marketing, we examine the nature of the student-faculty relationship development process and its affect on helpfulness, which we define as a “state of mind” conducive to future helping behavior. Drawing on relationship marketing theory and identity theory, we posit that trust, relationship commitment, and identity salience are key mediating variables between three antecedent variables (shared values, communication, and opportunistic behavior) and helpfulness. Our results provide support for the roles hypothesized for trust, relationship commitment, and identity salience. © 2004 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.