Mentoring is a powerful tool for creating a welcoming department climate, building a strong community, and supporting faculty careers. Mentors can serve as sounding boards, valuable resources, and advocates for faculty at all ranks.

Some examples of what mentors do include: 

  • Creating bridges for their mentees and connect them to the community. 
  • Providing feedback on papers, proposals (such as NSF CAREER proposals), or teaching.
  • Helping navigate the organizational structure and politics.
  • Collaborating on projects of mutual interest.

Faculty can benefit from multiple mentors at different points in their career, as each mentor may have different strengths. Well-mentored faculty are shown to be strong contributors to the department and have higher levels of satisfaction. Senior mentors often benefit from collaboration from the mentee as well.

Faculty from underrepresented fields or backgrounds may feel particularly frustrated when looking for resources and connections. In this regard, a formal mentoring program can be particularly important for pre-tenure faculty and underrepresented faculty. 

One suggestion for identifying mentors is matching new faculty with retired but still research-active faculty to avoid a conflict of interest. Deans or department chairs can recruit these faculty members to serve as mentors. Because retired faculty are no longer part of the promotion and tenure process, pre-tenure faculty may feel safer confiding in them.

ADVANCE Group Mentoring Programs