Mentoring Program For New Faculty
Being a new faculty member is both exciting and stressful! The early years of an academic career involve getting oriented and integrated into the campus community; developing and enhancing teaching, research, and service skills; navigating the tenure track; creating work-life balance; and establishing professional networks. Mentoring, both from senior colleagues and from near peers, is a key to turning these potential roadblocks into areas of advancement (Sorcinelli, 2004). Research shows that having mentors is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, more effective teaching, stronger records of scholarly productivity, and increased rates of retention, tenure, and promotion (Johnson, 2007; Cartwright, 2008; National Academy, 2010.)
Since 1997, WPI has offered a New Faculty Mentoring Program in order to provide new faculty with professional and social support. The program is facilitated by the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center, and all first and second year tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty are eligible to participate. Participation on the part of both mentors and mentees is completely voluntary.
Elements of WPI’s Program
New faculty are asked to complete a simple information form if they wish to participate in the one-on-one component of the mentoring program. New faculty may request mentors to assist with classroom teaching, project advising, scholarship, time management and priority setting, and/or other areas as needed. Upon request, more than one mentor may be assigned. The Morgan Center will recruit an appropriate mentor(s), based on the preferences expressed by the mentee, and on the recommendation of the department head. The formal mentoring relationship is anticipated to last for the first year of the new faculty member's appointment, but may be extended or terminated at the request of any member of the team.
Each mentor-mentee pair is asked to schedule regular meetings, which have ranged from once per week to biweekly to several times per term. The Morgan Center funds one lunch per term at a local restaurant for each mentor-mentee pair. The Director of the Morgan Center is available to meet with individual teams upon request, and will do so at least once at the beginning of each mentoring relationship.
WPI's mentoring program also has a strong "cohort" component, with monthly gatherings of new and early career faculty focused on particular themes or for open discussion. All new faculty are invited to attend, regardless of whether they participate in the one-on-one component of the mentoring program.
What Participants Say
Following are some comments from recent participants:
- The program really helped with understanding WPI's institutional and teaching culture. I also found it helpful in getting to understand my department and becoming familiar with tenure and promotion criteria.
- My mentor was the most helpful resource for me during my first year. I would highly recommend the program to new faculty members!
- I think a mentor is important for social adjustment to WPI, professional guidance, and personal guidance.
- In many ways WPI is not a typical university; mentoring helps new faculty get acclimated.