Mentoring Resources

Successful faculty seek mentors and develop a plan for their own professional development. At minimum, this plan should chart a path from the rank of assistant professor to tenured associate professor or through the next promotion.  New tenure-track faculty are encouraged to develop a mentoring plan by the end of their first credited year toward tenure.

As an additional measure promoting their success, associate professors are encouraged to have a mentoring plan to ensure their promotion to the rank of professor.

The guidance on the following pages, in conjunction with the robust resources available in the Mentoring Toolkit and originally published by the Syracuse University ADVANCE program, is designed to help academic leaders take an active role in supporting the career resilience and continued success of junior and senior faculty. The guidance found here and the guidance in the original toolkit is informed by a social network approach to mentoring which emphasizes that while multiple mentors and informal mentoring is most beneficial to the individual, ensuring that beneficial networks develop takes effort and commitment. For more information on the benefits of a social network approach to mentoring, review Section 1 of the toolkit on developmental networks.

General principles of effective mentoring

Developmental needs of faculty evolve as they move successfully through the various stages of their career. The faculty member’s goals and their needs at each stage should drive their mentoring plans and relationships. Departments, schools and colleges should begin with this assumption when developing norms and expectations around mentoring.

One mentor may be insufficient to meet a faculty member’s career needs. Departments, schools and colleges should encourage faculty to embrace a developmental network model wherein each faculty member relies on a group of mentors who can support their success as coaches, sponsors, supporters or confidants, and navigators. More information about this model and tools for success can be found in Section 1 of the Mentoring Toolkit.

That said, formal faculty mentors should be selected for all faculty, following department, school, or college guidelines.  Formal mentors, alone or acting as a group, should be productive scholars with successful track records of scholarly achievement. They also should demonstrate an understanding of the differential effects of bias on faculty members' careers and demonstrate an ability to act on that understanding in the context of the mentoring relationship.

For greatest success, the relationship between the mentor and mentee should be open to negotiation and beneficial to both parties. Individual faculty members should be free to end a mentoring relationship or request reassignment at any time, for any reason and without being required to provide an explanation. Changes are acceptable and should not be considered as part of any review process. Department, school and college leadership should clearly state this expectation as part of their program guidance.

Individuals bring to the mentoring relationship their own experiences and values which vary according to cultural affiliations, background and social location. Inherent challenges to mentoring exist across gender, race, ethnicity, disability and other differences, making it important that all parties communicate openly about how advice is being given and received. Mentors, particularly, must understand the various barriers that marginalized scholars encounter due to norms and practices of higher education, especially if they personally have not experienced them. Departments, schools and colleges should be attentive to positionality in their effort to ensure a positive mentoring experience for all.

Mentoring and performance assessment are two different, though related, activities and should carefully remain distinct to reduce conflicts of interest. Faculty who simultaneously serve on review committees and in a mentoring capacity must be clear about their responsibilities in both domains and communicate openly when conflicts of interest exist. Boundaries between the activities of planning and review are also necessary. Mentoring plans, which are forward-looking, goal-setting documents should not influence review documents, such as the report and recommendation form, which are retrospective, accomplishment-reporting documents. Departments, schools and colleges should identify how to resolve conflicts when they arise and should not comment on the adequacy of planning in the context of reviews.

For more information or to submit questions, contact Faculty Affairs.

You can also request a workshop for faculty to review best practices in mentoring.