Through faculty mentoring a more senior faculty member shares his or her experience, expertise and advice regarding research, teaching and other professional development issues with less experienced colleagues.
Thus, academics often think of mentoring as guidance for assistant professors seeking tenure, but it also applies to tenured professors working towards their career development goals. A mentor may serve as a guide to the institution and its culture, as a research advisor, as teaching resource, and/or as a role model. The goals of mentoring are:
- To help new faculty members acclimate to the formal and informal norms of the department, college, and the University.
- To foster effective research skills and publishing strategies.
- To encourage faculty to refine and expand their teaching strategies.
- To foster the development of a productive balance between research, teaching, and service.
- To guide faculty in their progression toward promotion and tenure.
- To foster an atmosphere of collegiality and community.
When they first arrive all faculty members, regardless of their rank and past experiences, need help learning the culture, protocols, and procedures of UM- Dearborn. The faster they can acclimate, the sooner they can focus their energies on teaching and research. Established faculty members can also benefit from advice from colleagues. Collegial critiques of drafts of papers and grant proposals may save valuable review time and increase the chances of early success. Getting comments on drafts of course proposals is also helpful and we can all improve on our teaching skills. By fostering collegiality, mentoring will not only increase teaching and research productivity, but will also lead to increased faculty job satisfaction and improve morale. The potential benefits of faculty mentoring to protégés include:
- Quicker acclimation to the job
- Improved teaching
- Improved research skills and productivity
- Better informed choices regarding service activities
- Increased social contact
The potential benefits to mentors include:
- Satisfaction from contributing to the development of a colleague
- Exposure to new research techniques and topics, and different teaching styles and strategies
- Reinvigoration of teaching and research programs
Get to know your colleagues by talking to them both at informal occasions and formal gatherings. For example, initiate a conversation just before or after a meeting, in the mailroom or at a social gathering. Faculty members interested in developing mentoring relationships should be responsive to any offers of assistance and open to taking the initiative in forming mentoring relationships. A successful protégé will be cordial and respectful for mentors’ time, and willing to take advantage of opportunities offered by a mentor. To expand access to a variety of perspectives and an array of areas of expertise consider forming a mentoring “team” or becoming part of a faculty development group. To make the most of a mentoring relationship:
- maintain contact with mentors
- keep mentors apprised of academic progress
- ask for help and raise concerns
- listen to and seriously consider mentors' advice
- exchange ideas and experiences with mentors
- What are the criteria for evaluating teaching for merit review and promotion and tenure consideration?
- Where can I get feedback on and guidance with teaching?
- What are the criteria for evaluating research for merit review and promotion and tenure consideration?
- What resources, monetary and non-monetary, are available to assist with research?
- Where do I get feedback on my research?
- What faculty development seminars and workshops are offered to UM-Dearborn faculty?
- How much service is expected and what committees would you recommend?
- Can I say “no” when asked to serve on a committee, and if I can, how do I do so gracefully?
- How and when do I begin to accumulate materials for my tenure/promotion portfolios?
- How does the University handle cheating and plagiarism? What are the policies and procedures related to student academic dishonesty?
- What social activities offered by the discipline, department, college and university would help me meet faculty members with similar research or teaching interests?
- What’s the structure of faculty governance on this campus?
- Exchange, review and discuss each other’s vitae.
- Get to know each other informally, e.g. having coffee , sharing a meal, going to a local museum together.
- Take a tour of campus together.
- Introduce protégé to staff in their department and college.
- Introduce protégé to campus resources such as the Office of Sponsored Research.
- Read and comment on protégé’s research project.
- Exchange and discuss each other’s syllabi and other course materials.
- Introduce protégé to colleagues with similar research and/or teaching interests.
- Discuss promotion and tenure expectations and procedures.
- Discuss priorities and establish both short and long term goals.
- Go to a Provost’s Round Table together.
- Visit each other’s classroom and discuss teaching techniques and other issues.
- Share your own experiences with journal referees and editors.
- Share and discuss annual review letters.
- Encourage participation in regional and national meetings and professional associations.
- Suggest books and articles to read
In addition to being a successful researcher and teacher, a good mentor is accessible, responsive, open-minded, dedicated to the development of others, self-confident and people-oriented. Mentors need to be good listeners, able to offer honest and constructive criticism, willing to compliment the protégé’s accomplishments and “talk them up” in their department and college. Mentors must be able to do these things in a confidential manner.An effective mentor will: initiate contact with the protégé devote time to the mentoring relationship familiarize the protégé with the campus environment and culture assist the protégé in developing a professional network help the protégé set his or her priorities and establish both short and long term goals follow up on a protégé’s progress listen to protégé’s concerns and questions and offer advice in a confidential manner.