Faculty mentoring is of the highest importance if a university is going to thrive. A formalized faculty mentoring program communicates to faculty that the university cares about them and is invested in their success. Although I did not have a mentor when I came to NIU, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor through my discipline's national association.
This senior colleague advised me, read my manuscripts and exposed me to different publishing opportunities. She was a sounding board when I needed to vent. She shared in my miseries and my happiness. She had what I refer to as a "mentor's spirit." She was a trusted confidant, an experienced leader, a competent educator, a prolific scholar, a valuable advisor and a treasured friend. I decided if I could be half as good a mentor to others as she had been to me, I would consider myself a good mentor.
I have been involved in mentoring for over two decades now. Some of the mentoring has focused on the challenges of teaching in a diverse classroom. Other mentoring has focused on research activity and producing manuscripts suitable for specific publications. But most of all, my mentoring has focused on helping others survive academia (including working relationships with colleagues, graduate students and administrators and being the "only one who looks like you" in diversity-resistant departments and/or universities).
The experience has been rewarding on so many levels. It is gratifying to know I have helped colleagues and potential colleagues, but I have gained as much in return (e.g., greater confidence in myself, new perspectives on different issues, new skills). This is why I mentor. Mentoring can be a powerful growth experience for both the mentor and mentee. We need mentors. Much more, we need faculty who have a mentor's spirit - an unseen affirming influence and positive energy. Please join me in this quest.
We invite you to share your insights or experiences as a faculty mentor or mentee. Send your narrative (300-350 words) to Janice Hamlet at firstname.lastname@example.org.