Faculty Mentorship Guidelines
Approved by Faculty Advisory Council January 17, 2018
In the last decade colleges and universities have become more concerned with enhancing productivity to survive in an increasingly competitive environment. Inherent within the concept of productivity in academic circles is the need to develop faculty, enabling them to make full use of their knowledge and skills. In order to make sure that the academy is a healthy work environment for research, teaching and service, the need to provide the proper guidance and nurturing to future academicians is essential to their and the college or university success (Gasman, 2009). While most, if not all, new faculty members have spent many years in a university environment learning the content of their subject areas, they typically receive little, if any, formal preparation and guidance in the knowledge, skills, and procedures necessary for them to become successful in their professorial roles. Recent recognition and acknowledgement of this void by institutions of higher education are motivating universities to initiate mentoring programs as a means to address this problem and help to decrease the gap of faculty members who leave within the first five years of employment. At the core of the mentoring process is an interpersonal relationship between an experienced faculty member and a new faculty member. The underpinning assumption of mentoring as a form of learning and professional development originates from the belief that learning occurs through observing, role modeling and/or apprenticeship, and questioning.
The overarching goal of the COE mentorship plan is to provide collegial support for instructors, clinical faculty, assistant professors, and associate professors in the areas of teaching, research/scholarship, and service. In order to reach this goal, the following four focus areas are recommended:
- Help new faculty understand program, departmental, college, university, and regional cultures.
- Assist with communication across college and university units and introduce faculty to administrative and support staff within the college and throughout the University for assistance with teaching, research, and service.
- Introduce faculty to staff and professional colleagues who share common interests and/or who provide services designed to assist faculty.
- Provide professional advice with regard to ethical behavior in areas of work associated with the Academy.
Faculty Mentor Assignments:
Search committees should work closely with department heads to ensure each newly hired faculty member will have an opportunity to work with a mentor, if desired. Other faculty seeking promotion may also request their department head assist with providing a mentor. In either instance, department heads will initiate this process at a time they believe to be most appropriate. However, it is recommended they do so as early in the fall semester as possible.
Mentors may be chosen from within the program, department, or college. Any other mentor, including but not limited to those from professional organizations, will be considered “informal” in nature. Whether formal or informal mentorship occurs, however, the COE faculty recommend the guidelines detailed herein be followed. Moreover, informal mentoring that may take place among program faculty or within a department or across another department within the COE is encouraged as a way to support the overall mentorship experience. Faculty may request a specific mentor within the home department or from another department within the COE.
A mentor is usually considered a teacher, friend, sponsor, counselor, and/or person who expresses a willingness to contribute voluntarily to the profession. Mentors are those who have successfully traveled the path to achieving tenure and promotion. They have the knowledge and experience to provide vital information as the new faculty member proceeds towards acquiring resources that can also lead to their success. Mentors understand the institutional culture, rules and processes. They also know about the day-to-day operations of planning and teaching for success in the area of teaching. The mentor also has the practical experience of suggesting various service opportunities that exist at the department, college, university and community levels (Rosser, 2003). In addition, the mentor can guide and help new faculty balance the appropriate levels of service, teaching, and research.
Rosser (2003) stated the importance of the new faculty member to move from the status of graduate student to that of faculty or a faculty member moving to a new institution. The importance of getting to know the culture of the department, college and university is vital to the success of being accepted, promoted and tenured at the college or university. Pursuing these goals can be the most challenging and rewarding steps for the mentor and the new faculty member. For the mentor, there is no greater reward than to be part of a successful partnership of supporting new faculty members who can handle the requirements of collegiality, service, teaching and research. Other findings suggest that new faculty who are mentored feel more connected to their work environments than their non-mentored peers. They also claim to have a greater sense of ownership of their departments, and to receive information about tenure and promotion, research, teaching, and service expectations with greater frequency than their non-mentored peers (Schrodt, 2003).
Collegial support is the hallmark of a mentor's work, and the development of a trusting relationship between the mentor and the mentee is essential in order for mutual respect to develop. This relationship requires time, appropriate pacing, and availability of the mentor. The mentor should offer positive feedback and encouragement and should counsel the mentee to reflect on their professional activities, as well as to recognize, through the modeling of the mentor, the importance of reflective practice. The primary goal of the mentoring process is to nurture the professional development of new colleagues in order to help them succeed in their teaching, research, and service activities so that they, in turn, can mentor others (Danielson, 1999; Odell & Huling, 2000). The authors suggest that mentors can provide a valuable service by "showing the ropes" to their new colleagues so that they become accustomed to the unique culture into which they have moved. There is no one size fits all (Manning, Kinzie, & Schuh, 2014) program in mentoring. Acknowledging there is no one program that meet the needs of mentoring whether it is formal or informal, we believe there are important components that are vital to the mentoring programs success.
On October 20, 2017, COE Mentor Leadership Seminar participants developed a list of characteristics they believe support effective mentoring. That list reads as follows:
Effective mentors should…
- Be proactive, follow timelines, inform mentees what they should be doing
- Be flexible and assessable
- Be good listeners
- Create a timeline for the first semester, share what is important to know, and be clear
- Find answers for questions mentees might have
- Explain policies
- Have a routine, but don’t mandate it
- Discuss the culture of the department and the college
- Explain communication protocols
- Be a good/active listener
- Be available, assessable and reliable
- Model professionalism/collegiality
- Invite mentees to join groups.
- Love all, serve all
- Be kind
- Have a sense of humor
- Be a friend
- Be organized
- Show dedication to the betterment of the College and University
- Be goal oriented
- Stay focused and open minded
- Assist as needed
- Be non-judgmental
- Care about the mentee and honestly want them to be successful
- Help mentees identify strengths and weaknesses and go from there
- Provide candid, constructive feedback to mentee about their progress
- Be open and caring, accepting new or different ideas, valuing others
- Provide constructive feedback and challenge mentees to make progress
- Be engaged at all levels
- Be or become competent in all areas listed above
Responsibilities of Faculty Requesting a Mentor:
- Be proactive in seeking advice
- Provide timely updates to mentors on all facets of teaching, research, and service
- Schedule time to develop an effective, professional relationship with the mentor et al. colleagues
- Contribute to the exchange of ideas with the mentor and other colleagues
- Make wise use of opportunities presented by others to engage in research, refine teaching skills, and perform service that is viewed as valuable
On October 20, 2017, COE Mentor Leadership Seminar participants developed the following list of potential activities for new faculty and mentors to consider:
- Introduce faculty to the MSU Writing Center
- Engage in relationship building leading to trust and respect
- Assist with balancing research, teaching and service
- Meet separately and have some group meetings with other mentors and mentees
- Review policies pertaining to Digital Measures, Task Stream, textbook ordering, etc.
- Meet regularly at first then as needed
- Have formal and informal meetings
- Review department P/T guidelines and answer any questions; give advice on notebooks
- Explore the Springfield area and tour the campus
- Take to restaurants/stores/lilaces in Springfield and surrounding area
- Meet at BearFest Village and attend events
- Sit with them at meetings
- Attend commencement, recruitment events, and conferences together
- Introduce to other faculty/staff on campus
- Attend an SETL activity
- Review the University academic calendar periodically
- Discuss syllabi formats and mandatory items to be included
- Assist with RP&T notebooks
- Review APA publishing guidelines and Code of Ethics
- Demonstrate how and where to access information on the COE website, including but not limited to the Policy Library
- Collaborate on an article if subject is of interest and both agree
- Prepare for the Annual Review
- Review internal and external funding opportunities for research
- Demonstrate how to advise students
- Be a second set of eyes to review papers
- Explore time management techniques
- Consider peer observations of teaching