Faculty Mentoring Program

This mentoring program is intended to facilitate the ability of junior faculty to become successful in their academic careers at the University of Missouri –College of Veterinary Medicine. 

The program, led by faculty within the department at the rank of Professor or Associate Professor, will provide both centralized resources as well as individualized mentoring. Centralized resources include this website and provided links as well as seminars to be organized by the committee on mentoring on a twice yearly basis for the benefit of the junior faculty. Individualized advice will be provided through the assignment of a mentoring team to each junior faculty at the rank of Assistant Professor or Assistant Teaching Professor.  

Because the program is set up for the benefit of the junior faculty, the junior partner in each mentors/mentee team should take considerable responsibility for making the team work. The mentors/mentee should reach a clear understanding of what they expect from each other. Mentees should be encouraged to formulate their career goals clearly, define sharply any problems they perceive and bring specific problems to meetings for discussion. The mentor may wish to ask for some such material in writing. Mentors cannot guarantee the happiness and work environment of mentee but they can offer support, encouragement and useful information. The mentors are not meant to supplant the role of Department Chair, nor will the mentors be directly involved in issues of salary or promotion.

If either a mentor or mentee believes that their relationship is not beneficial, the mentoring relationship may be discontinued with no fault assigned.  If requested, a new faculty mentor may be assigned. Should a junior faculty member choose to waive participation in the mentoring team at any time, they are free to do so without penalty. Mentoring teams will continue for up to 6 years after appointment, except under special circumstances if the department chair requests an extension.

The program’s success will depend on the new faculty members, their mentors and department chair all taking an active role. The responsibilities of each are outlined below.   

The Responsibility of the Department Chair

The chair negotiates the responsibilities expected of the new faculty member. As soon as the appointment is made to the rank of Assistant Professor, the chair notifies the chairperson of the mentoring committee, who then assigns a team of two mentors.  The chair will also provide a copy of the terms of employment (salary redacted) to the mentors in order to facilitate them in their guidance to the new faculty member.  The chair is responsible for official advising of junior faculty on matters pertaining to academic reviews, salary, and advancement. The mentoring team is not meant to replace the chair in this capacity, but to provide additional guidance to the junior faculty to help them accomplish their own goals and the goals of the department chair. It is the chair’s responsibility to see that mentors have current information on the University of Missouri’s academic personnel process.
The Responsibility of the Mentoring Committee members

The mentoring committee develops, reviews, and maintains the content of the centralized resources through the website. The committee also develops topics and arranges speakers for at least twice annual seminars designed to benefit junior faculty.  Topics might include the tenure process and what to expect, how to identify potential grant sources, time management, understanding academic governance, or other topics deemed potentially useful. The mentoring committee, through the chair, chooses two faculty mentors to form the mentoring team for each mentee.  The mentors need not be members of the committee, but generally at least one of the two team members will be a committee member.  Mentors need not be in the same area of research or clinical expertise as the mentee, but should have been through the promotion process and have enthusiasm for their potential contribution to the welfare of the junior faculty, and thus the department.

The Responsibility of the Mentor
The mentors should contact the new faculty member as soon as possible after their arrival at the University.  The mentors should plan to meet with the mentee at least once a year, typically offset with the annual review with the department chairperson (e.g., if review occurs in February, mentor meeting should occur in July). It is encouraged that the mentors speak with the mentee more often, and not only as a team of three but one-to-one as well. The mentors should provide informal advice to the new faculty member on aspects of teaching, research and committee work or be able to direct the new faculty member to appropriate other individuals. Often the greatest assistance a mentor can provide is simply the identification of which staff one should approach for which task. Funding opportunities both within and outside of the campus are also worth noting.  The mentor should treat all interactions and discussions in confidence. 
Sometimes, the mentors may wish to help intervene with other faculty or the department chair on behalf of the mentee.  In such cases, the mentor should ask the mentee’s permission before proceeding.  There is no evaluation or assessment of the new faculty member on the part of the mentor, only supportive guidance and constructive feedback.

The Responsibility of the Junior Faculty Member

The junior faculty member should be responsible for scheduling yearly meetings.  The junior faculty should keep his/her mentor informed of any problems or concerns as they arise.  When input is desired, the junior faculty should leave sufficient time to request specific assistance, such as peer-review of teaching. 

The Mentor

Qualities of a Good Mentor

Accessibility – the mentor is encouraged to make time to be available to the new faculty member. The mentor might keep in contact by dropping by, calling, sending e-mail, or extending a lunch invitation. It is very helpful for the mentor to make time to read / critique proposals and papers and to provide periodic reviews of progress. Networking – the mentor should be able to help the new faculty member establish a professional network. Independence – the new faculty member’s intellectual independence from the mentor must be carefully preserved and the mentor must avoid developing a competitive relationship with the new faculty member. 

Goals for the Mentor

Familiarization of junior faculty with the campus and its environment.  Networking—introduction to colleagues, identification of other possible mentors.  Developing awareness—help new faculty understand policies and procedures that are relevant to the new faculty member’s work.  Constructive criticism and encouragement, compliments on achievements.  Helping to sort out priorities—budgeting time, balancing research, teaching, and service. 

Benefits for the mentor

Satisfaction in assisting in the development of a colleague Ideas for and feedback about the mentor’s own teaching / scholarship  A network of colleagues who have passed through the program  Retention of excellent faculty colleagues  Enhancement of department quality

Typical Issues

How does one establish an appropriate balance between teaching, research and committee work? How does one say “no?”  What criteria are used for teaching excellence, how is teaching evaluated? How does one obtain feedback concerning teaching? What resources are available for teaching enhancement?  How does one identify and recruit good graduate students? How are graduate students supported? What should one expect from graduate students? What is required in the graduate program? What are the criteria for research excellence, how is research evaluated? How does the merit and promotion process work? Who is involved? What committees should one be on and how much committee work should one expect? What social events occur in the department?  What seminars and workshops does the department organize? What is the college system? What responsibilities come with appointment to a particular college?