SCSE Mentoring Policy

SCSE Faculty Mentoring Policy

January 4, 2018

The faculty and administration of the Swenson College of Science & Engineering (SCSE) recognize that professional development and advancement are vital for academic and scientific excellence and critical to the overall success of faculty. In order to ensure that our College fosters this development, the SCSE Dean has instituted a Faculty Mentoring Program (FMP, hereafter). The primary purpose of this program is to provide advice, guidance, support, and feedback to all faculty in the College. This program will be implemented consistently across all departments to the benefit of the academic well-being of the College and it's students, departments, and programs as well as the University as a whole.

The SCSE FMP is based on best practices and requires collaboration between the SCSE Dean, SCSE Department Heads and faculty. To achieve a robust, inclusive, accountable, and sustainable faculty mentoring program, the College commits to providing program leadership, structure, and resources. Published work on faculty mentoring programs shows that mentor training and mentee orientation  as well as oversight and record keeping are important elements of effective mentoring programs. Mentoring programs based on best practices result in increased faculty retention, research productivity, decreased time in rank, and a higher level of probationary faculty satisfaction. The mentoring relationship is a collaborative professional affiliation in which mentors, mentees, department heads and the dean have articulated responsibilities. Mentors offer information, advice, support, encouragement, honest feedback, problem solving, referrals, networking opportunities, and advocacy. They also assist in the familiarization and acclimatization with the SCSE and UMD environment. Mentees shape their career goals and are proactive in seeking information, engaging in opportunities, and making the ultimate decisions about their career development. Confidentiality, mutual respect, and trust are essential elements of a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

As an individual begins an academic career in SCSE and then advances through the professorial ranks, the profile of his/her interests may evolve from establishing strong records in teaching and research to further enhancement of these fundamental responsibilities coupled with leadership development. In addition, the College recognizes that one size or mentoring does not fit all, and that gender, racial, ethnic, sexual identity, and national origin shape a person’s experiences and how others view him or her. Literature shows that underrepresented faculty face cultural and gender issues that lead to lower rates of retention and advancement. The SCSE FMP includes best practices that mitigate these outcomes. Finally, the SCSE faculty mentoring program is cognizant that faculty may be challenged by work-life balance issues emanating from dual careers, children, and care of aging parents.  

Term Faculty

The Swenson College FMP recognizes the need for Term Faculty to obtain mentoring throughout their career at UMD. Mentoring will help the new instructors become familiar with teaching norms and procedures unique to their department and the College. After several years, benefits will continue to accrue as mentoring provides intellectual stimulation, opportunities to raise professional issues, and a venue to discuss improvement and innovation in teaching. Given these and other considerations, faculty with less than five years of experience at UMD are required to establish a mentoring team with two other Term Faculty in their department. Term Faculty with more than five years of experience at UMD are strongly encouraged to continue a mentoring relationship with either another Term Faculty or a tenured faculty member.

Tenure-Track Faculty

Tenure-track faculty, and Assistant Professors in particular, greatly benefit from mentoring to assist in establishing their careers. Mentors can help Assistant Professors: develop their teaching portfolio and instructional skills; establish and advance a robust research and scholarship program including external funding; learn to balance service expectations such as advising, committee work, professional service, and outreach; and achieve professional benchmarks that adequately prepare them for successful promotion and tenure review. Assistant Professors are required to have a formal mentoring team consisting of two tenured professors throughout the probationary period prior to promotion and tenure. Associate Professors are expected to have one formal mentor at the rank of Professor in or outside of their home department until they are promoted to Full Professor. Full professors also benefit from the support and guidance and leadership training as their careers mature. Although participation in the SCSE FMP is not required for faculty at this rank, it is strongly encouraged.

New Faculty

Other faculty of any rank who are new to UMD and SCSE may also benefit from mentoring as they move into unfamiliar surroundings in SCSE, UMD, and the University of Minnesota System. Understanding policies and procedures can ease the transition and also support faculty success. Any faculty new to SCSE will be required to have a formal mentoring team during their first year at UMD and are expected to continue in the SCSE Mentoring Program as dictated by their rank.

Different kinds of mentoring models may be adopted and multiple mentors may be assigned simultaneously or sequentially. In addition to the formal SCSE FMP, it is assumed that faculty will develop informal mentoring relationships at various professional development stages. SCSE has numerous opportunities for faculty members to meet and work with others who might provide informal mentoring. Faculty are strongly encouraged to participate in lunch meetings organized around specific research topics (e.g. Birds of a Feather), professional development workshops (e.g. UMD Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, The Writing Center) and other organizations and offices on campus that can provide resources and opportunities for discussion, support, and information (e.g. SCSE Female Faculty, UMD Employees of Color and American Indian Group).

References (Updated September 5, 2017)

  1. SCSE Faculty Mentoring Program (Oct 4, 2014)
  2. Columbia University:  Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring (Aug 2016)
  3. U California San Francisco: Faculty Mentoring Toolkit (Nov 2012)
  4. Case Western Reserve University:  Best Mentoring Practices (Nov 2011)
  5. M. Ghandhi and M. Johnson.  Creating More Effective Mentors: Mentoring the Mentor.  AIDS Behav. 2016; 20:S294-S303. A. Onchwari.  Faculty Mentoring Project Report  (2011)  UMD