VII.2. Mentoring New Faculty and Staff

Once the department, backed by the college and the university, has made a successful tenure-track faculty hire, all stakeholders will be well-served if a solid mentoring plan is in place when the new faculty member arrives on campus. In its likely absence, however, sustained attention to mentoring is still important to support a probationary faculty member’s progress toward successful promotion and tenure. Different faculty, including the department chair, can serve various mentoring roles for a new faculty member. (Bear in mind, however, not all probationary faculty members welcome a mentoring relationship.) One model for mentoring is the “buddy system,” which is an informal – and therefore, less intimidating – relationship that nurtures professional development:

That person need not be an expert in the specialist research topic. The benefits come from four sources. One is from the formal prompt to take the work of reflecting seriously and to do it mindfully. The second is from having to give an account of research work in a way that makes sense to another person who is representative of the discipline and institutional communities; the principle is that to teach is to learn twice. The third is through responding to questions; and the fourth benefit is the joint creation of ideas, possibilities, and priorities (Knight and Trowler 2001: p. 131).

Because the department chair has an important role in NIU’s promotion and tenure process, it is unlikely that he or she can serve in more than a mentoring supervisory capacity with probationary faculty. However, within the responsibilities of overseeing faculty development, it is within the chair’s purview to encourage mentoring relationships within the faculty, especially during the first year or two, or until the new faculty member has self-selected a mentoring colleague.