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|Faculty Mentoring Q & A|
NOTE: The information below is derived primarily from an earlier survey of ACSP mentors and mentees.
Question 1. How often should mentors and mentees expect to be in contact with each other?
Answer. The amount of contact varies. Most participants report three or more contacts per year, but contact can take place as frequently as once a month. According to one mentee, “We email each other roughly once a month to keep abreast of my progress and we talk as needed, for example to discuss revisions to a manuscript or the tenure process.” Another mentee commented: “We had a very constructive, very rich 45-minute mentoring session at the ACSP and have kept in touch via email.” A third mentee reflected on what appears to be a more common level of communication and contact: “We’ve talked on the phone once and emailed back and forth a few times.”
Question 2. What kinds of specific examples of mentoring should a mentor and mentee expect to adopt?
Answer. There are a variety of mentoring activities that have taken place in the Faculty Mentoring Program. Most of the focus has been placed on research, and to a lesser degree, teaching and consequently much mentoring activity has been encompassed by assistance with: a third-year review package, a book proposal, a course being taught by the mentee, papers being written by the mentee, and mentee research grant proposals. Other discussions between mentor and mentee take place on developing long term strategies for obtaining promotion and tenure, negotiating service and teaching commitments, identifying potential funding sources, identifying potential outside reviewers for the promotion and tenure review, adopting strategies for long term career success, planning a book manuscript, and improving teaching evaluations. Sometimes, mentors are asked to provide advice on balancing work and life and dealing with colleagues. In all these instances, mentors will assist both by giving general advice as well as by reviewing the mentee’s work and giving specific suggestions.
Question 3. Who approaches whom? Should mentees contact mentors with specific questions they face or should mentors initiate contact with mentees?
Answer. Mentors should let their mentees know that they are available to assist. If there are certain things that a mentor would prefer to do or not to do, the mentor should let the mentee know up front or as soon as possible. For example, a mentor might prefer not to review a book manuscript, but would be well prepared to give advice on the preparation of a book prospectus.
At the same time, mentees should not feel shy about contacting the mentor. The mentee is better able to appreciate the issues s/he faces than the mentor is at anticipating what these issues might be and therefore should not hesitate to contact the mentor. While mentors are busy people, their participation in the Faculty Mentoring Program indicates that they are ready to assist the mentee.
Probably the best way to begin the mentoring relationship is with a get acquainted face to face meeting or phone call. This meeting should be preceded with transmission of the mentee’s c.v. to the mentor. In the meeting, the mentor can obtain information about the mentee’s professional accomplishments and aspirations as well as the specific promotion and tenure climate faced by the mentee.
After the first meeting, periodic emails and telephone calls will be sufficient to enable the mentoring relationship to develop. If desired, the mentor and mentee should probably meet once a year, at ACSP or APA, for example, to have a face to face conversation.
Question 4. Will mentors be able to serve as outside reviewers during promotion and tenure reviews?
Answer. This is an important question whose answer varies from institution to institution. Ideally, the mentor should be in a good position to be an outside reviewer since s/he knows the mentee’s work very well. Moreover, many universities encourage the mentoring of junior faculty. At the same time, however, some universities also treat mentoring relationships as indicating a prior relationship that might bias the review.
There is no expectation as to whether the mentor should be an outsider reviewer or not, but if the mentor is willing to do so, mentees should research the situation at their university and provide this information to the mentor. Together, they should decide whether the mentor should be an outside reviewer or not.
Question 5. What will ACSP and the ACSP Faculty Mentoring Committee do to support the mentoring program?
Answer. In order to better facilitate mentoring, the ACSP Faculty Mentoring Committee expects to sponsor or publicize special events at ACSP conferences that will provide mentors and mentees an opportunity to get together as well as to attend panel discussions on topics pertinent to the promotion and tenure and career building processes. Possible topics include: obtaining promotion and tenure, particularly at different kinds of universities and planning schools; administrative positions in planning and how and when they should be incorporated in one’s career; creative strategies for publications; and journal editor discussions of problems they find in submitted manuscripts.
The ACSP Mentoring Committee will also send out periodic emails to remind mentors and mentees to contact each other if they haven’t done so lately.