Mentoring Program for Tenure-Track Faculty

The Dean of Faculty office co-ordinates a one-on-one mentoring program for tenure-track faculty.   The program pairs the new tenure-track faculty member with a senior colleague who is a tenured member of the faculty located outside of the new faculty member’s home department.  The pair works together to help the new faculty member understand Hamilton’s institutional culture; set and attain priorities; develop teaching, scholarship, and service; and navigate through the reappointment and tenure process. This mentoring program does not replace the mentoring provided within the department but offers additional perspectives, information and resources.  Everything that transpires between the senior and junior colleague should be kept strictly private; however, both members of the pair have responsibilities to Hamilton and its students that might override confidentiality in situations involving threats to self or others or legal subpoenas.

Expectations of the Senior Colleague

The senior colleague should make the initial contact with the tenure-track faculty member and set up the first meeting.  During that meeting, the pair should agree upon a general schedule of meetings (e.g., every few weeks) or other modes of communication.  The senior colleague’s role should be to act as a sounding board and a source of information and advice when needed. Senior colleagues should help the new colleagues find answers to the questions they have and point them in the direction of the person to whom they should talk. The role of the mentor includes listening and offering advice, explaining policies, providing context to issues, offering perspectives on issues and concerns from a view outside the department, and offering support and encouragement. If the mentor and the tenure-track faculty member agree that this could be helpful, you might make arrangements for classes taught by the tenure-track faculty member to be visited once or twice a year by the mentor, who can offer a perspective free of the requirements for evaluation that departmental colleagues are obligated to provide.

Expectations of the New Colleague

As the program is set up for the benefit of the new faculty member, s/he should take substantial responsibility for how the process works. Make meetings with the one-on-one mentor a priority and keep in touch.  Be willing to ask for help and inform the senior colleague of any issues or concerns as they arise. Going it alone doesn’t work well for most new faculty members. Recognize and accommodate a mentor’s time constraints. No one mentor can provide all the help or advice that an early career faculty member may need; multiple sources of information and help are useful. New faculty members are encouraged to seek informal mentors in addition to the senior colleague assigned to them. If the mentor and the tenure-track faculty member agree that this could be helpful, you might make arrangements for the tenure-track faculty member once or twice a year to visit classes taught by the mentor, to gain insights on successful ways a more experienced teacher has developed to work with Hamilton’s students.

Changing Mentors

Changes in the pairing can be made without any assumptions of fault being made. Each mentoring situation will be different depending on the experience and background of the participants, and sometimes the pairing just doesn’t work out. Either the senior or junior colleague can initiate the process by discussing the situation with each other or with the Associate Dean of Faculty.

Topics and Advice for Mentoring

Possible areas where support may be of importance in early-career faculty development:

Arriving at Hamilton:
  • Learning the institutional culture and structure (e.g., academic policies and guidelines, harassment policies, expectations, structure of college and department)
  • Becoming familiar with the new environment, on and off campus
  • Identifying resources to support teaching/scholarship
  • Setting up networks of colleagues and friends
  • Learning about academic office support
Developing Teaching
  • Examining best practices in teaching (e.g., course design, syllabi, assignments, grading, technology, facilitation of discussion, instructional techniques, and curricular issues)
  • Advising students
  • Dealing with academic dishonesty
  • Identifying and addressing cultural differences in students’ expectations
Developing Research
  • Setting a research focus and long-range goals
  • Setting a schedule for writing/creating work
  • Using research support (e.g., internal and external funding opportunities, research plan development, feedback on manuscripts, practice of presentations and talks, grant proposals)
  • Publishing, performing or exhibiting one’s work
Developing Service
  • Understanding expectations for service
  • Identifying service commitments of interest
Navigating the Tenure-track
  • Learning about and managing the process and timing of reappointment and tenure
  • Learning about and working toward the criteria used in personnel decisions (i.e., the evaluation of teaching, research, and service, both campus-wide and by department)
  • Putting together the reappointment/tenure dossier
  • Getting feedback from chairs/faculty/administrators about progress
Balancing Work and Life
  • Prioritizing and balancing teaching, research, service, and personal life
  • Setting goals, short and long term
  • Managing one’s time
  • Addressing quality of life issues (e.g., dual careers, childcare, leaves)
  • Managing stress and health
  • Identifying and addressing hidden workloads based on gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Creating a social/cultural network (making friends, connecting to resources that affirm one’s culture or identities)
Developing Professional Networks
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with faculty, on and off campus, who share interests in scholarship and teaching
  • Attending conferences (e.g., selection, presentations, travel funding)
  • Being visible in department, institution and profession
  • Advancing one’s career, on and off-campus

Contact Information

Office of the Dean of Faculty

Buttrick Hall
315-859-4601 315-859-4677
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