Mentoring Plans for Tenure-Track Faculty

A mentoring plan is a brief document that includes information necessary to guide an individual’s career and professional development.  At a basic level, plans should specify what is to be achieved and when, as well as what resources exist to support progress, how colleagues or others can be helpful in achieving goals, and when revisions are expected. Plans also can be used to memorialize shared understanding between parties about the nature of the mentoring relationship, recognizing that regular and timely availability to the junior faculty member is a key criterion for success.

A template for a basic mentoring plan is available in Answers. Using that template, or a document formatted according to school or college procedures, each plan should account for the following:

  1. Although mentoring as an activity should focus on multiple domains of career development, mentoring plans should minimally a) be explicit about standards and expectations in the areas of teaching, research, and service required for successful review at the next stage and b) include a clear statement of the expected achievement for each interim step of career progression, including annual, third-year review, and tenure and promotion review. Expectations must not conflict with any standards stated in the department, school, or college bylaws and procedures, nor impose expectations in addition to published guidance.
  2. Each individual’s plan should specify goals and activities that will have the greatest possibility of leading to success, taking into account disciplinary norms. Activities should be aligned with specific anticipated time frames for completion, for example, prior to the next review, or prior to the third-year review.
  3. Mentoring plans should include explicit consideration of expected service. Tenure-track faculty should not engage in service that impedes progress toward tenure, and associate professors should not be assigned service that impedes progress to full professor.  Service should be broadly defined to include mentoring, special initiatives, community work, and student engagement, among others, in addition to contributions to shared governance and service to one’s discipline. Where possible, service opportunities that align with the scholarship of the faculty members should be encouraged. Mentoring must include explicit consideration of the negative impact of service obligations on the career progression of women and faculty from marginalized populations. Service should enhance, not detract from, opportunities for the career success of underrepresented faculty.
  4. Mentoring plans should specify the assets and resources necessary for the individual faculty member to complete the plan. Assets and resources might exist or need to be cultivated.
  5. Mentoring plans should specify lead, primary, and ancillary or informal mentors, as applicable, along with their specific realms of responsibility or contribution. This list will change over time, and the lead mentor or mentoring team should seek to assist the faculty member in expanding the list. The lead mentor or mentoring team has the responsibility for reviewing needs and plans regularly.
  6. Mentoring plans should specify how frequently and for what purposes a faculty member should meet with a lead mentor or mentoring team. Seek to balance responding to emergent needs and opportunities with intentional or planful consultations. Recognize that mentoring might be more frequent at some times than others; anticipate and schedule it. For example, in the first semester, a mentor might meet with a faculty member every other week, while in the fourth credited year toward tenure, such reviews might occur twice per term. Specify how the schedule can be temporarily or permanently negotiated as needs arise.

Mentors and mentees should ensure that mentoring plans are reviewed and approved by the department chair, where applicable, and the dean of the school or college, if required.