More Information Mentoring New Faculty at Washington and Lee

Washington and Lee stands on a foundation of strong teacher-scholars. Every year, we welcome new faculty members to our community, nurture continuing colleagues, and celebrate the accomplishments of brilliant, dedicated teacher-scholars. Since faculty growth and development constitute the bedrock of W&L's success, we are dedicated to providing robust support for faculty across the arc of their careers.

Faculty mentoring, an adaptable and practical strategy for bolstering faculty success, is key to faculty development. Mentoring has been shown to enhance teaching effectiveness, to increase research productivity, and to improve faculty retention, recruitment, productivity and satisfaction.1

Successful mentoring depends on building supportive relationships between new faculty members and established teacher-scholars poised to guide the advancement of their junior colleagues. A few key principles underpin faculty mentoring relationships at W&L:

  1. Mentorship is a collaborative learning process that draws upon the knowledge of a variety of faculty who can provide guidance (senior faculty, near peers, and peers may all function as mentors) to new faculty entering the professoriate or to more senior faculty transitioning to new roles. The relationship is a "reciprocal, supportive, and creative partnership of equals," requiring active committed engagement on the part of both mentor and mentee.2
  2. Mentoring should help junior faculty successfully acquire the key competencies (scholarly independence, educational skills, and preparation for academic advancement), as well as the constructive professional relationships (professional networks) within the institution and beyond needed to develop a productive career.3
  3. The traditional, hierarchical, dyadic mentoring relationships may be enriched by an additional network of individuals providing very specific guidance in areas of professional development that may not be addressed within a single dyadic relationship.4 Formal assigned mentoring relationships and informal, mentee-initiated relationships may be complementary and support different aspects of career guidance. Mentoring networks are of particular relevance to faculty groups traditionally underrepresented in the professoriate.5

The scope of faculty mentoring should include guidance in multiple aspects of career development. These include, but may not be limited to the following:

  1. Teaching skills
  2. Development of independent scholarship and creative work
  3. Development of internal and external professional networks crucial to recognition as an independent scholar
  4. Strategies for success and advancement within the institution, school, or department, with attention paid to formal as well as informal measures of success
  5. Requirements for academic advancement
  6. Overall career planning, including short-, mid-, and long- term goals
  7. Management of career challenges of particular relevance to women and underrepresented minority faculty

To a large extent, the most fundamental, longterm mentoring occurs within a new colleague's primary department or interdisciplinary program. Guided by the Department Faculty Development Document (DFDD), department and IP chairs determine the best structure to help new faculty members transition to W&L and begin robust careers within their disciplines. Approaches vary, but chairs may choose to assign individual mentors, organize group discussions between a new faculty member and junior and senior colleagues, plan class observations, or establish other structures of support.

Given the scope of the guidance that benefits new faculty, it is clear that mentoring beyond the departmental level is also essential and and may take many forms. Moreover, we recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all program to meet the needs of all new faculty members. Non-tenure track faculty, underrepresented minority faculty, and tenure track colleagues all require unique forms of support and development. Therefore, we aim to provide all new faculty at W&L with consistent extra-departmental mentoring programs that smooth the transition to our community and prepare teacher-scholars for longterm success.

First, new non-tenure track and tenure track faculty are invited to participate in a teacher- scholarcohortfornewfacultymembers. The cohort will be led by the undergraduate associate deans as well as the associate dean for academic affairs in the law school when new law faculty join our community. The cohort will provide optional monthly meetings that focus on different aspects of faculty development. These meetings will include invited speakers, campus leaders, and specific workshops to support faculty who may be preparing for the job market or simply focused on improving pedagogical strategies.

Additionally, underrepresented new non-tenure track and tenure track faculty members will be welcomed to the W&L Professionals of Color Network. The Professionals of Color Network is organized and supported by Human Resources. This group of staff and faculty support one another through a variety of activities that encourage community building, fellowship, resource sharing, professional development, collaboration, and advocacy. The group encourages and supports W&L's commitment to diversity and equity and works to create a climate where all of its members can thrive.

Finally, new tenure track faculty at Washington and Lee will be assigned a mentor from outside of his or her department appointed by the new faculty member's respective dean for their first year. The Provost and the Deans will lead a mandatory faculty academy session to provide training to all faculty mentors. Core events planned by the Provost throughout the first year of a faculty member's W&L career will ensure faculty mentors and mentees establish a strong mentoringrelationship.

The frequency of mentoring discussions as well as the level of detail may vary depending on the junior faculty member's needs (i.e., it may be determined that more frequent meetings would be necessary for faculty arriving directly from graduate school while faculty with significant teaching experience may require less frequent meetings), as well as the level of independence of the junior faculty.

The mentoring relationship must include:

  1. An opening discussion of teaching (preferably before classes start and focused on syllabus development), research, and service goals.
  2. An end of year meeting to reassess goals and recommend any "course corrections."
  3. At least two additional informal meetings on topics ranging from work-life balance to nurturing an on-campus network.

The mentoring relationship can include:

  1. A classroom observation of the mentor teaching followed by a discussion of the class.
  2. A classroom observation of the mentee followed by a discussion of the class.
  3. A discussion on advising at the end of the first year as the second year is when faculty take on advising duties.

The Associate Provost will reach out to mentors and mentees once at the end of each semester soliciting a brief reflection. Moreover, the Mentee's Dean will provide up to $200 to each mentor to reimburse meetings over coffee, lunch, or dinner throughout the year.

Best Practices

For Departments

Clearly articulate career priorities and expectations for faculty that mentorship programs will address (see DFDD)

  • Support teaching performance
  • Develop independent scholarship/research productivity
  • Develop important professional networks
  • Provide guidance regarding the determinants (both formal and informal) essential for academic advancement in that unit
  • Proactively recognize and mitigate factors that dis-proportionately deter the advancement of women and underrepresented minority faculty
  • Identify whether additional psychosocial aspects of mentoring will be addressed by departmentally facilitated programs

For New Faculty

  • Identify Needs and Interests: Mentees should start by identifying their own needs and interests in order to create a draft of career goals and objectives. These needs and interests should be provided to the mentor, along with a draft of goals and any supporting materials (i.e., CV, research statement, teaching portfolio, individual development plan, etc.), prior to an initial meeting.
  • Active Engagement: To ensure effective mentorship, it is essential for the mentee to be actively engaged in the mentoring relationship. This includes listening attentively, a willingness to work outside of one's "comfort zone," identifying specific developmental goals for which guidance is sought, initiation of meetings, adequate preparation for meetings, soliciting feedback and willingness to listen to feedback both positive and negative, and taking responsibility for developing scholarly independence.
  • Identify Any Gaps in Competencies/Skill Sets: A responsible mentee will also reflect on their own activities and goals and identify gaps in competencies and/or skill sets that may be essential to the mentee's ability to successfully attain his or her goals.
  • Developing Networks: The mentee should be actively engaged in developing a broad network of developmental relationships.

For Mentors

  • Time Commitment: Mentors must attend the mandatory fall academy session in order to serve as a faculty mentor. Mentors should be able to commit to and honor the time required for meeting and advising their mentee(s).
  • Skills and Needs: Mentors should assess their skills for mentorship and determine their own developmental needs.
  • Collaboration: Mentors should work with the mentee(s) on the development of realistic career goals and timelines for achieving those goals.
  • Scope of Guidance: Mentors should be able to provide guidance on setting objectives, vision, and strategies for the specific scope of advising.
  • Mentoring Plan: It is the responsibility of the mentee to provide the mentor with his or her goals (written or discussed), a CV, teaching statement, research statement, and whatever other materials will be useful in forming a mentorship plan; it is the responsibility of the mentor to collaborate with the mentee to develop attainable goals, types of guidance, and resources for developing necessary academic competencies and relationships.
  • Communication: In order for mentorship to be most effective, both the mentee and the mentor must establish a level of trust with each other. Both should practice careful and active listening and be able to communicate respectfully and confidentially. Potential communication barriers based on race, ethnicity, culture, or background are important to consider. Mechanisms to provide constructive feedback should be thoughtfully considered.
  • Network Development: A key role of a mentor is to help facilitate the development of academic networks.

1Williams, 1991; Bland & Schmitz, 1986; Bland et al., 2002; Byrne & Keefe, 2002

2Mott, 2002; Kram & Isabella, 1985

3Zellers et al., 2008; Bhagia & Joyce, 2000; Chao et al., 1992

4Zellers et al., 2008; Kram & Isabella, 1985

5Pololi & Knight, 2005; Pololi, 2013; Bickel, 2014; Chesler & Chesler, 2002; De Janasz et al., 2003; Van Emmerik, 2004