Each new faculty member is assigned a faculty mentor from their department. The mentor assists in all areas of the mentee's professional development, introduces the mentee to the department, College, and perhaps to the larger community, and serves as a guide to faculty review processes. A new faculty member may also be assigned a faculty mentor from a different department. The mentor-from-a-different-department usually is someone who can bring another perspective to the new faculty member's development, such as a similar creative or professional area of interest and expertise. Often they can help mentees get acquainted with the Emerson community and perhaps disciplinary organizations, and sometimes offer mentees another perspective in their department.
Usually, mentors and mentees work toward these goals through informal meetings - and Panera gift cards are available to mentors who meet with mentees over a meal or snack - and mentors and mentees may visit each other's classes, or whatever else might make sense in a particular case. While the number of meetings in a given semester will vary among individuals, several meetings likely will be necessary to accomplish these goals.
Mentoring assignments usually last for 3 years (but an assignment certainly can be changed at the request of the mentor or mentee, or when circumstances, such as a mentor's being on leave for a semester, make a temporary or permanent change appropriate). After the mentee's third year, the "formal" mentoring assignments conclude, but the relationships, of course, may continue, as the mentees and mentors wish.
The Role of the Mentor
Results of numerous studies suggest that intellectual, social, and resource support from senior colleagues, chairs, deans, and campus administrators may be critical to attracting, developing, and retaining new and under-represented faculty (Bensimon, Ward & Sanders, 2000; Rice, Sorcinelli & Austin, 2000). In particular, findings point to the importance of the essential mentoring role played by individuals within an early-career faculty member’s department, including other early-career faculty, more senior colleagues, and the department chair.
What issues and opportunities should colleagues be aware of in supporting early-career faculty? The guidelines and suggestions in this section can be used to reflect on how to create an effective and supportive mentoring partnership, to prepare for mentoring sessions, and/or to identify areas for learning that might contribute to further development as a mentoring partner.
Characteristics of a Good Mentor
A good mentor...
- Is willing to share his/her knowledge and academic career experience.
- Listens actively and non-judgmentally—not only to what is being said, but also to how it is said.
- Asks open and supportive questions that stimulate reflection and makes suggestions without being prescriptive.
- Gives thoughtful, candid, and constructive feedback on performance, and asks for the same.
- Provides emotional and moral encouragement, remaining accessible through regular meetings, emails, calls, etc.
- Acts as an advocate for his/her mentoring partner, brokering relationships and aiding in obtaining opportunities.