Faculty mentors can be crucial to the success and retention of the newest members of our intellectual community as they adjust to life at Loyola, life in the profession, and life in Baltimore. This is especially true when it comes to a diversifying faculty and an ever-evolving Loyola. Mentors are tenured, have a good network and understanding of the profession, a healthy sense of collegiality, and an ability to listen to a mentee’s goals and needs. Colleagues report that the experiences can also be quite rewarding for the mentor. Data from various Loyola climate surveys, orientation feedback, not to mention national literature on best practices confirm that a universal mentoring program meets an authentic need.
The Basic Details
Each new tenure-track faculty member is paired with a tenured mentor outside the home department, which augments the good things already happening within departments across the campus. We kick off the year with a meet-and-greet and idea exchange about what might make the mentoring experience useful and valuable. After that, the precise nature and duration of the relationship will be largely up to the individual mentor and mentee pairs, though we might recommend monthly check-ins throughout the year. The associate vice president for graduate academic affairs provides ongoing support and resources, including a yearlong new faculty orientation program that covers different aspects of life on the tenure-track: scholarship and grant writing, teaching and time management, work-life balance, networking, the tenure review process, and strategies for long-term success. The office of academic affairs pays for an initial lunch or coffee meeting to start your partnership off right. The time commitment is for the full academic year as mentors listen to mentees, help them establish achievable short-term and long-term goals, help connect them to resources on and off campus that may be helpful, and help them take advantage of all of the professional development services available on campus.
To volunteer to be on the list of potential faculty mentors, please contact Beth Kotchick
Mentoring at Loyola
Mentoring has been a mainstay among faculty in colleges and universities for several decades. It is a particularly good fit for Loyola’s commitment to cura personalis as we seek a sustainable and productive balance between our various commitments as members of the profession and our communities: teaching, scholarship, service to the institution and the profession, family obligations, life in Baltimore and beyond, and other personal interests. As new faculty enter academic positions, they meet challenges in the process of becoming faculty colleagues and members of the profession and community. This is especially true for colleagues from non-majority groups, first-generation college professors, and even more seasoned faculty who join Loyola after years at other institutions with different campus cultures. Mentors offer guidance: they listen well to our new colleague’s concerns and goals, interpret the institutional and regional environment for newcomers, and serve as an anchor and an information source. They can be the key to a new faculty member’s sense of comfort in the University and greater Baltimore community.
Some key topics relevant to new tenure-track faculty (e.g., scholarly writing, teaching and time management, work-life balance) will be covered in the yearlong orientation of monthly discussions, which may yield follow-up discussions with mentors. The mentoring pair may wish to periodically include department chairs in their discussions, though the mentoring process is complementary to the formal process for annual review, tenure, and promotion. The mentor or mentee can also contact the associate vice president for graduate academic affairs at any time for additional resources, suggestions, or to mediate between colleagues if problems arise.
Note that the campus-wide mentoring program augments any orientation or mentoring that happens within a department, which tend to be more directly aligned with department-specific expectations and the annual review, tenure, and promotion processes. Tenure is a significant goal for tenure-track faculty, but it will not be their only professional goal and the mentor program takes seriously the Jesuit commitment to cura personalis as mentors help new faculty members create a sustainable balance between all aspects of their lives and think about long-term career success, before and after tenure.
Role of Academic Affairs
The office of academic affairs coordinates the faculty-to-faculty mentoring program. Specifically, the associate vice president for graduate academic affairs:
- Solicits volunteers for an ongoing list of tenured faculty willing to serve as mentors;
- Creates initial mentoring pairings, based on stated needs and experiences, in consultation with Deans and Chairs as appropriate;
- Offers resources for mentors, including helpful readings and an initial idea exchange;
- Organizes an initial kick-off and wrap-up meeting with all mentoring pairings;
- Convenes a yearlong series of monthly conversations about faculty life to create community and a culture of collective mentoring;
- Provides mediation and re-assignment for mentoring pairs, as necessary; and
- Maintains only limited records on specific program participants.
The office of academic affairs will consult with chairs, deans, and the faculty affairs committee to help evaluate and continuously improve the faculty-to-faculty mentoring program.
The conversations about faculty life yearlong have featured discussions with select senior faculty and campus offices on:
- Setting Goals, Sharing Needs (kick-off meeting with mentors)
- Teaching at Loyola: From Surviving to Thriving
- Myths and Facts about the Tenure and Promotion Process
- Scholar-Teachers: Finding the Time and Place to Publish
- Work-Life Balance
- Dossier building
- Grant Seeking and the Tenure-Track Research Leave
- Year Seven and Beyond: My Strategies for Long-term Success (wrap-up luncheon with mentor pairs)
Becoming a Mentor
Faculty-to-faculty mentoring program mentors are experienced, well-respected tenured faculty members willing to spend focused and productive time with a new tenure-track colleague over the course of the first year--or longer if both parties agree! A mentor's goal should be to develop a supportive relationship that contributes to a new colleague’s career satisfaction and development.
- Be good listeners and strong communicators;
- Have an established network of professional peers and resources that can be used to assist the new colleague;
- Be independent, allowing the new colleague to develop a career path distinct from the mentor's;
- Avoid competition with the new colleague;
- Have solid self-esteem and an excellent reputation; and
- Be motivated to help others.
The campus-wide mentoring program complements departmental mentoring efforts, providing clarification and support with issues that affect all tenure-track faculty members. The purpose is complementary to the sort of mentoring offered by departments and chairs, such as shepherding through the tenure process and familiarizing new colleagues with department-specific expectations. Being a mentor takes time, commitment, and effort on the part of tenured faculty members. Still, mentors often experience great benefit, including the satisfaction of helping a colleague develop professionally and pride in creating an inclusive institution that treats its faculty well. Sometimes, mentors even experience personal benefit in the form of new ideas and energy for their own teaching, research, or service agenda.
You can sign up anytime to be on the volunteer list. Contact the vice president for graduate academic affairs: Beth Kotchick, firstname.lastname@example.org. Specify any time constraints, such as sabbatical leaves. It is also helpful to know what specific experiences and skills you might bring, such as engaging Baltimore, demystifying the publishing process, teaching strategies, service expectations, understanding work-life balance, challenges faced by members of affinity groups or non-majority populations in the academy, navigating the world of grant funding, and so on. If you aren’t assigned a colleague to mentor in a given year, the hope is that you will stay on the list for future years.
The Mentoring Relationship
Ultimately, the mentoring ideal is one of partnership, and the office of academic affairs suggests periodic meetings (perhaps: monthly) with intentional conversations about short-term and long-term goals and the challenges to each. The mentoring relationship is a professional one, not a personal one, and often begins as a non-reciprocal, though mutually satisfactory relationship. Mentors are expected to take the lead in this professional relationship. Over time, the pair will often find that both parties learn in the relationship. It is important that mentors share knowledge and also listen, and that mentees are open to learning while being forthcoming about goals and challenges. Mentees should feel that mentors are well-versed in campus resources and knowledgeable about procedures relevant to faculty life. New tenure-track faculty members can and should use the mentoring program to effectively expand their networks on campus.
Mentors play no formal role in the annual review process, nor tenure and promotion, which enables a pairing to speak frankly and confidentially about their teaching, research, and adjustment to Loyola, the profession, and the surrounding community. Mentors should respect these confidences, and should be clear about matters they feel require outside help.
If either party feels the relationship is ineffective, or finds that their personal commitments have changed or interfere with the demands of the mentoring relationship, contact the office of academic affairs. The associate vice president for graduate academic affairs will proceed with discretion and work tactfully to mediate differences, or arrange for a new partner.
The dynamic of the mentoring relationship depends on the needs and personalities of any given pairing. Some typical roles that a mentor might fill include:
- Coach – A person who offers instruction and direction. For example, clear instruction on the use of the student honor code, strategies on how to respond to requests for service, how to integrate scholarly activity into the demands of faculty life, and so on.
- Facilitator – A person who clarifies the process, enables the new colleague’s smooth entry to Loyola, the profession, and Baltimore. A mentor can help explain the role of faculty governance at Loyola and beyond, demystify the peer-review process, point to family-friendly policies or relevant support offices on campus, or locate a new colleague’s polling station on election day.
- Advisor – Someone who gives advice. As an advisor, the mentor can help design a viable research agenda, develop good time management practices for teaching, determine which university-wide committee assignments are most appropriate, and so on.
- Networker – A person who leverages personal or professional relationships and contacts for mutual assistance and support. At Loyola, mentors might introduce new colleagues to affinity groups or interdisciplinary initiatives, or connect colleagues in other departments with similar teaching interests.
Beyond Loyola, mentors might help new colleagues identify and develop relationships with colleagues in the same discipline at local universities, at journals, on conference organizing groups, or other professional groups in the area. Mentors may also introduce mentees to Baltimore organizations, be they of professional or personal interest.
In all, mentors listen to their new colleagues with the aim of helping new colleagues develop short- and long-term goals leading to professional and personal success.
A helpful discussion of formal and informal mentoring, which may serve as a reflection piece for your own approach to the mentoring relationship, whether as a mentor or mentee.