Mentoring can be defined as the process of one person supporting, teaching, guiding and serving as the model for another person (Buell, 2004). Mentoring can also be described as the process by which a person, usually of higher rank or outstanding achievement, guides the development of another person who may be new to a place of work or field. Although the concept of mentoring has been in place for many years, the idea of faculty mentoring in colleges and universities has only recently begun to be considered as an important strategy for new faculty hires. In this context, mentoring should be used to exchange ideas, strengthen departmental relationships, enhance productivity, and integrate new faculty into the University community (Savage, Karp, and Logue, 2004).

This is a voluntary mentoring program consisting of two levels of mentoring: 1) informational mentoring provided by the college/division, and 2) career mentoring provided by the unit in order to facilitate success. In addition, leadership development is proposed for faculty who have successfully integrated into their positions at OSU.

Mentoring: College Level

The purpose of providing mentoring support at the college/division level is to offer new faculty information and resources in understanding the structure and culture of OSU.

Goals

  • Provide a website as a resource of important information university-wide (e.g., student support services, human resources information, important dates and events).
  • Share core values of the division/college.
  • Oversee that unit-level mentoring programs are effective, and provide support where needed.
  • Provide necessary information regarding the P&T process.
  • Provide workshops around significant themes related to division/college mission (e.g., student engagement, scholarship & grants, technology, global learning, signature areas).

Activities

  • Two orientations to provide information and resources.
  • Fall CLA Day for social networking and introductions.
  • New Faculty Luncheons organized around a thematic agenda that introduces other campus units and resources to new faculty.
  • Workshops during the year open to all faculty regarding significant themes.
  • Training session for Directors on best practices for effective faculty mentoring.
  • Training session for Mentors and Mentees on best practices for effective faculty mentoring.
  • Leadership development training provided as appropriate for faculty successfully approaching tenure, and mid-career faculty.

Mentoring: Unit Level

The following is a recommendation for unit level mentoring. Each unit should have the flexibility necessary to shape the mentoring plan according to specific needs and expectations. The general purpose of mentoring at the unit level is to provide constructive feedback in the spirit of facilitating success.

This is a voluntary mentoring plan through which experienced faculty knowledgeable about the campus and academic life are matched with other faculty to orient them to OSU and their position expectations, inform them about campus support services, and assist them in the various stages of their academic careers at OSU.  This program is not meant to be a substitute for existing campus-wide resources and programs, but can be a supplement to those programs.  All faculty should be encouraged to seek multiple mentors for various purposes throughout their career.

Goals of the Mentoring Program

Help new faculty members to:

  • Learn about OSU, the surrounding community, and support resources for faculty.
  • Adjust to the new environment and become active members of the university quickly.
  • Address questions, concerns, and special needs in a confidential manner.
  • Gain insight about teaching, scholarship and career development from an experienced faculty member.
  • Network with other faculty and develop a personal support system within OSU.

Encourage experienced faculty to:

  • Share their knowledge and experience with new faculty and gain professional growth through the exchange of ideas.
  • Assist new faculty to adjust quickly to the campus and address their unique needs, concerns, or questions, if any.
  • Provide a valuable service to the university by promoting collegiality through mentoring.
  • Contribute to teaching, research and scholarly activities, and service mission of OSU.

Suggested Mentoring Activities

Mentors and new faculty are encouraged to meet a minimum of once per month during the first two years and keep in touch as necessary via phone or email. Suggested mentoring activities are:

  • Discuss short-term and long-term career goals and professional interests (e.g., do a “needs” assessment of the mentee).
  • Attend the programs offered by the Center for Learning and Teaching, Research Office or other campus units.
  • Do peer teaching observations of the mentee.
  • Share information on academic and student support services on campus.
  • Discuss effective instructional techniques, course development and curricular issues.
  • Explore scholarship and sponsored funding opportunities, and writing publications.
  • Discuss academic policies and guidelines, and university governance structure.
  • Discuss student issues such as advising, motivating, and handling academic dishonesty.
  • Share experiences on managing time, handling stress, and life/work balance effectively.
  • Discuss preparing for tenure and promotion and career advancement (e.g., go over P&T dossier format).
  • Explore professional development opportunities available to new faculty.

Matching Mentors with New Faculty

Directors of units will match mentees with mentors and request an annual mentoring plan as appropriate. The match should seek input from both the mentor and the mentee and it should be a relationship that is mutually agreed upon by all parties.

As the research on successful mentoring has suggested, mentors assigned are generally of the same gender as the new faculty. However, mentors of particular gender, race, ethnicity, or background should be considered for multicultural development or other professional development reasons.

Upon completion of an Assistant Professor’s intensive third year review, the mentoring structure can be revisited and adjusted as needed for the remainder 2-3 years and as appropriate for all parties involved.

Directors will check in with the mentee once per year to review the position description, the mentoring plan, and make adjustments as appropriate.

Duration of the Mentoring Process

No set duration is required for the mentoring relationship between a mentor and a mentee. It is recommended that mentors and new faculty interact regularly during the first two years. At the end of the second year they can decide if it is necessary to continue the mentoring relationship at the same pace, or on an as needed basis, or conclude it if individual goals have been met by the intensive third year review.

At any point during the mentoring process, if a mentor or new faculty feels that the relationship is not productive, the unit Director should be informed so that a different mentor or new faculty can be assigned.

Mentors and new faculty should provide feedback on the progress of their interactions at the end of each year so that the Director can evaluate the program and improvements can be made.

Roles and Responsibilities of Mentors

Successful mentors are committed, influential and experienced faculty members that are familiar with the university system. They are recognized as good teachers and scholars in their field. Mentors are interested in and committed to the growth and development of their mentee(s), are willing to commit time and attention to their mentees, can and do give honest feedback, and are willing to act on behalf of the mentee to provide connections and direction on questions that come up.  Mentors are not expected to listen to grievances and frustrations nor are they expected to be on call or automatically a friend to the mentee.  These relationships take time and will strengthen over time if both are committed to the effort and a good fit is established at the beginning of the process.

The mentor should provide informal advice to the mentee on aspects of teaching, research and committee work or be able to direct the new faculty member to appropriate other individuals. Often the greatest assistance a mentor can provide is simply the identification of which staff he or she should approach for which task. The mentor should treat all interactions and discussions in confidence. There is no evaluation or assessment as part of this mentoring relationship, only supportive guidance and constructive feedback. If a match does not work out for the mentee there should be an understanding of a no fault approach to terminating the relationship. It is important to note that mentoring is a skill and tenure status does not necessarily equate to good mentoring skills.

Mentors are responsible for:

  • Taking the initiative for contacting their mentees and staying in touch with them.
  • Devoting time to the relationship and be available when requested.
  • Assisting new faculty with their various questions, needs, or concerns.
  • Sharing their knowledge and experience to benefit their new faculty and following up on their progress at OSU.
  • Maintaining confidentiality of the information shared by their new faculty colleagues.

Roles and Responsibilities of Mentees

New Faculty can take on various roles such as friend, protégé, new colleague, or collaborator depending on their needs, academic experience, and the nature of their mentoring relationship.

Mentees are responsible for:

  • Devoting the time to the mentoring relationship and interacting with the mentor often.
  • Making use of the opportunities provided by the mentor.
  • Keeping the mentor informed of academic progress, difficulties, and concerns.
  • Exchanging ideas and experiences with the mentor.

Both the mentors and mentees have the responsibility for gaining each other's trust and confidence, interacting in a collegial manner so as to value each other's time, and professional and personal commitments, and engaging in activities that support the mission and strategic goals of OSU.

The 10 Commandments of Mentoring 1

  1. Don't be afraid to be a mentor. Many mentors underestimate the amount of knowledge that they have about the academic system or their organization, the contacts they have, and the avenues they can use to help someone else. A faculty member does not have to be at the absolute top of his or her profession or discipline to be a mentor. Teaching assistants can mentor other graduate students, graduate students can mentor undergraduates, and undergraduate majors can help those beginning the major.
  2. Remember you don't have to demonstrate every possible faculty role to be an effective mentor, but let your new faculty colleagues know where you are willing to help and what kind of information or support you can give that you believe will be particularly helpful. Be clear about whether you are willing to advise on personal issues, such as suggestions about how to balance family and career responsibilities.
  3. Clarify expectations about how much time and guidance you are prepared to offer.
  4. Let new faculty know if they are asking for too much or too little of your time.
  5. Be sure to give criticism, as well as praise, when warranted, but present it with specific suggestions for improvement. Do it in a private and non-threatening context. Giving criticism in the form of a question can be helpful, as in "What other strategy might you have used to increase student participation?"
  6. Where appropriate, "talk up" your new faculty accomplishments to others in your department and institution, as well as at conferences and other meetings.
  7. Include new faculty in informal activities whenever possible - lunch, discussions following meetings or lectures, dinners during academic conferences.
  8. Teach new faculty how to seek other career help whenever possible, such as funds to attend workshops or release time for special projects.
  9. Work within your institution to develop formal and informal mentoring programs and encourage social networks.
  10. Be willing to provide support for people different from yourself.

1 Taken from: Sandler, B. 1993. Women as Mentors: Myths and Commandments. Chronicle of Higher Education. March 10, 1993.

Best Practices

  • Structured mentoring efforts, where established and successful faculty members are assigned to new faculty and have established guidelines and expectations, are most effective.
  • Units should spend time exploring and customizing mentoring programs that are best suited for their particular program culture and field.
  • Inter-disciplinary faculty mentoring should be explored whenever feasible and appropriate.
  • To maximize the effectiveness of a faculty mentoring program, unit heads should check-in periodically with the mentoring that is being given.
  • Establish mechanisms that recognize and reward mentoring efforts.

References

Arizona State University. Faculty development.

Buell, C. (2004). Models of mentoring in communication. Communication Education, 53, 56-73.

Indiana University. Mentoring policy curriculum & instruction.

Kansas State University. Mentoring policy.

Oregon State University, WAGE Mentoring Tool-kit.

Purdue University. Teaching Academy: The Faculty Mentoring Network.

Sandler, B. 1993. Women as Mentors: Myths and Commandments. Chronicle of Higher Education. March 10, 1993.

Savage, H.E., Karp, R.S., & Logue, R. (2004). Faculty mentorship at colleges and universities. College Teaching, 52, 21-24.

Univesity of Illinois. Junior Faculty Mentoring Program.

University of Minnesota. Faculty Mentoring Program.

University of Washington. Mentoring.

University of Michigan. (2004) Report of the faculty mentoring study: The Provost’s advisory committee on mentoring and community building.

UC San Diego. Faculty development programs.

Univesity of Wisconsin. Provost initiative on mentoring for women.