Rivier University's Mentoring Program for New Faculty
Are you looking for an experienced colleague to talk with about your professional life at Rivier University? Several tenured associate and full professors on campus have agreed to mentor new faculty members who would like to gain perspective on the various challenges of academic life.
Mentors will not offer to resolve conflicts or provide specific advice about expectations for promotion and tenure. As mentors, they will not compose letters of support or advocate for you. They can, however, offer general tips about preparing for promotion and tenure, share their successes in the classroom, listen to your concerns, provide feedback based on their own experience, and suggest where to turn for advice on a variety of questions when sources outside the mentor program are more appropriate.
While faculty may approach any of the listed mentors for assistance, newly hired faculty may appreciate having a mentor initially “assigned” so that support is present during the transition period. Initial assignments will be made by Divisional Chairs. All initial mentors know that they are there simply to begin the process of support, helping to make the selection of mentors as open and flexible as possible. You should feel free to consult a mentor for a single meeting or for an ongoing relationship. Mentors and mentees will be provided with a total of four lunch vouchers per year, to facilitate the relationship. Please note that no records or reports of meetings will be kept, and the parties agree that the relationship can be terminated by either party at any time without prejudice.
Mentors can help you gain perspective on:
- Catholic heritage and mission of the University
- Faculty governance and Senate functions
- College resources to advance professional development
- Decision-making related to career management and advancement
- Teaching and scholarship challenges
- Establishing a professional network
- Setting priorities—time management and balancing research, teaching and service
- Networking—introducing you to colleagues & identifying other possible mentors
- Policies and procedures which are relevant to your work
While mentors may not play any formal role in the promotion and tenure process, they nevertheless may be helpful resources on matters of teaching, helping you with how to develop lectures, construct syllabi, develop tests and writing assignments for a class, stimulate student involvement in the class, grade written assignments, and mentor students etc. Mentors and mentees may agree to visit each other’s classes and discuss observations, though the observations and resulting conversations will not contribute to formal evaluation.
Mentor Qualifications and Roles
- Mentors are generally tenured associate or full professors, though Divisions may make exceptions to this qualification.
- Division Chairs may not become mentors
- Mentors may or may not reside in the new faculty member’s Division
- Mentors may not be Coordinators or faculty involved in formal supervision of the mentee
- A mentor will be on campus during the new faculty member’s first year and is willing to continue the mentoring relationship beyond the first year, should both parties desire, at least through the third year
- The mentor may offer perspectives on teaching, scholarship, service, and professional development
- Mentors will receive an orientation to mentoring and participate in an end-of-year lunch to review and assess the mentoring experience.
A mentee may be any newly hired full- or half-time faculty member.
Options in Mentor Selection
- Faculty members in another department or division may be selected
- A mentor may agree to work with more than one newly hired faculty member
- Newly hired faculty may develop a mentoring relationship with more than one mentor
- Newly hired faculty are encouraged to create informal peer mentoring groups, in addition to the mentoring opportunities offered by Rivier University’s Informal Mentoring Program
Faculty Mentors at Rivier University
Training for Mentors
Rivier University is very fortunate to have so many mentoring programs in higher education to draw from in creating its own. The aim of our program is to foster a sense of community for all faculty. Research on mentoring in higher education bears out the claim that mentoring can produce substantial, positive outcomes for both new and senior faculty (Miller 2006). In well designed mentoring programs, new faculty feel included and valued, able to orient themselves more quickly to an institution’s values, processes, and organization. Senior faculty benefit from the reflection and leadership role involved in mentoring. Reviewing mentoring programs at five colleges and universities, Miller concludes that there are several essential qualities for mentors. Mentors should be:
- Experienced – encountered and found solutions to many career-related problems
- Enthusiastic – positive outlook on life and toward her/his chosen profession
- Sensitive to under-represented groups such as minorities and women
- Supportive – confidence in potential of the mentee no matter the race or gender
- Available – willing and able to provide advice as needed
- Possessed of a good sense of humor
- Open-minded and receptive to other points of view
- Able to address sensitive issues
- Able to get along well with different types of people
- Possessed of high expectations and standards – for themselves as well as for others
In the context of a Catholic university, Rivier faculty mentors are also encouraged to see mentoring in light of the heritage and mission that is unique to Catholic higher education—a heritage that values the integrity and dignity of each individual.
The literature on mentoring in higher education emphasizes the need for training and facilitation of mentor development. How should mentors be trained? Should training be formal or informal? In order to help mentors contemplate the mentoring role, share perspectives and strategies, and determine what training they would like to receive, Rivier University will invite mentors to join one another for lunch conversations in August and April of each academic year.
Miller, R. L. (2006). Mentoring new faculty: programs and procedures. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Higher Learning Commission Annual Meeting. Retrieved June 26, 2009, from www.unk.edu/uploadedFiles/.../HLC_Mentoring_Roundtable.ppt