Office of the Provost

Ideas for Faculty Mentoring  

The list of ideas provided below is intended as a collection of ideas for faculty mentoring efforts that may be of interest to deans, associate deans, department chairs, academic program directors, and individual faculty members. The ideas can be applied in a variety of contexts.

Academic Leadership Initiative

Build a positive culture for mentoring

  • Recognize publicly how important faculty mentoring is for junior faculty success

  • Encourage department chairs and academic program directors to facilitate group and individual mentoring.

  • Keep academic leaders and all faculty abreast of University policies and resources that concern mentoring and junior faculty issues

  • Engage faculty members in dialogue about faculty mentoring

Develop programs and information nets for junior faculty

  • Identify and make available (online or in a packet) central resources for junior faculty, such as information about grant writing and teaching support.

  • Host research seminars in which junior faculty present current research and get feedback from other faculty.

  • In consultation with the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, develop workshops for creating better teaching portfolios.

  • Offer seminars to help junior faculty members learn about mentoring issues such as how to approach potential mentors, how to manage the first year, and how to access relevant department policies.

  • Invite junior faculty to observe senior colleagues who are known to be excellent teachers.

  • Inform junior faculty about opportunities for internal and national awards.

  • Financially support junior faculty members who need travel funds to accept invitations to give presentations elsewhere.

  • Encourage junior faculty to set both short term goals, for the coming year, and long term goals over the several years leading to the tenure review

Build connections between mentors and mentees

  • Assess the potential mentor population. Identity senior faculty mentors willing to mentor, and determine the type and level of mentoring each is willing to provide. Make their names available to junior faculty. Consider appointing mentors for a defined period, such as an academic year.

  • Inform junior faculty of the variety of mentoring opportunities available.

  • Actively encourage junior faculty to connect with senior faculty, who are a key resource in helping junior faculty succeed academically.

  • Actively help female faculty, minority faculty, and other faculty members connect with faculty members and other people who can provide appropriate mentoring.

  • Ensure that faculty members with joint academic appointments receive appropriate mentoring. See Guidelines for Joint Academic Appointments on the Provost’s Office website:

  • Provide funds for mentors and mentees to have lunch together.

  • Ensure the mentors meet their mentees regularly.

Incorporate mentoring into best practice guides for committees that mentor or review faculty

  • Arrange a yearly meeting for senior faculty and/or administration to discuss junior faculty members’ progress and to identify strategies for helping them to address weaknesses or problem areas.

  • Periodically provide specific feedback to junior faculty regarding their performance and accomplishments in areas that will be key to the tenure review.

  • Review junior faculty members’ teaching, clinical, and service assignment to assess whether these loads are reasonable.

  • In any formal reviews, and particularly in the third year and tenure reviews, consult with mentors before communicating with the junior faculty member.

  • Ensure that faculty mentoring addresses the areas of research and of teaching.

  • Insure that mentoring encourages junior faculty to set both short term goals for the coming year, and long term goals over the several years leading to the tenure review

Provide funding and Incentives to enhance mentoring

  • Give incentives or recognition to senior faculty mentors; e.g., reduce their teaching load, support graduate students, or supply seed funds for projects.

  • In annual reviews of senior faculty, recognize faculty mentoring as an important contribution of service

  • When evaluating department chairs and academic program directors, include faculty mentoring as a performance criterion.

Periodically assess mentoring effectiveness

  • Periodically ask junior faculty what they want from mentoring and whether or not their needs are being met.

  • Periodically review and assess mentoring programs and practices.


Individual Faculty Initiative

Senior Faculty (Mentors)

  • Senior faculty can mentor in several capacities:
    • Promoter
      • Nominate the mentee for awards and service opportunities that enhance visibility
      • Look for symposia/panels on which the mentee can be included
      • Assist in creating a “social network” in the department and in the field
      • Help mentees find appropriate collaborators
    • Advocate/Protector
      • Help the mentee navigate the “unwritten rules” of academia, e.g., dealing with reviewers, editors, research sponsors, as well as how to avoid pitfalls
      • Assist with practicalities of dealing with professional setbacks, such as manuscript/grant rejections, poor teaching evaluations, etc.
      • Help ensure that the mentee is not exploited in service or teaching loads
      • Become well-versed in current promotion and tenure policies, as well as university resources
    • Coach
      • Evaluate manuscripts and grant proposals prior to submission
      • Discuss mentee’s ideas and encourage the pursuit of promising lines of research
      • Offer guidance for preparing annual reports
      • Review curriculum vitae
    • Challenger
      • Provide candid but constructive feedback to mentors who come to you for advice.
      • Help junior colleagues expand into new areas and undertake new professional responsibilities, such as serving on an editorial review board.

Junior Faculty (Mentees)

  • Take the initiative to learn about the available faculty mentoring resources, including resources and programs in the your department, school, college, academic program, and in central offices of the University.

  • Create a relatively broad mentoring network, consisting of people within the department, institution, the field at large, other fields, and other institutions.

  • When you encounter a specific problem, seek out one or more senior faculty members who have the expertise to help you.

  • Initiate periodic meetings with a small group of faculty peers to address a common interest, such as setting writing goals, discussing research opportunities, sharing teaching experiences, and checking on one another’s progress.

  • Actively engage in establishing connections with potential senior faculty mentors.

  • Act as peer mentors for other junior faculty.

  • Identify areas in which you need improvement or need to develop skills, and ask for advice.

  • Look for opportunities to interact with senior colleagues and academic leadership both formally and informally.

Also see the NSF-Advance Program’s document, “Giving and Getting Career Advice: A Guide for Junior and Senior Faculty,” which includes tips for academic administrators, senior faculty, and junior faculty (in progress)