History Department Mentoring Policy (March, 2015)
The History Department takes the mentoring of junior faculty very seriously. Each new tenure-track faculty member is provided with a copy of our guidelines for tenure and promotion soon after arriving on campus, if not before. The departmental Chair serves as official mentor to all junior faculty, meeting with them individually at least once a year to review their teaching, service, and scholarship, and to formulate specific strategies for reaching agreed goals in each area well in advance of the sixth-year tenure and promotion review. At these meetings, the chair aims to establish mutual understanding of (1) the specific mandatory timetable for assembling a case for tenure and promotion; (2) the nature and meaning of the criteria used in evaluating candidates within the department, CAS, and the university. These meetings typically take one to three hours. After each annual meeting, the chair writes up a summary of the meeting, including any areas of concern and strategies that were discussed. These summaries are sent in the form of an email for review by the individual faculty member and his or her faculty mentor, corrected and amplified where necessary, and then submitted as a letter to the candidate. These letters are then shared with the Dean’s Office.
In addition to the above, departmental mentoring policy requires that:
• A faculty mentor will be assigned to new junior faculty in their first year. This assignment will be made by the chair with the advice and consent of the executive committee and in consultation with the faculty members involved. However, for a variety of reasons, there should be flexibility in the choice of mentors. Personal preference, leaves of absence, and changes in circumstances may make it appropriate or necessary for a new mentor to replace the original mentor. The request for a change may be initiated by either the mentor or mentee.
• Mentors will meet with mentees at least once a semester.
• The role of the mentor is to advise and consult in matters of teaching, student advising, departmental expectations, professional decision-making (i.e., conference attendance, applying for fellowships, time management, etc.), and matters of research and publication.
We suggest junior faculty ask their mentors for advice on syllabi, teaching methods, course descriptions and proposals, and teaching evaluations. It is advisable to ask the mentor (or other colleagues) to observe classroom teaching. This is at the request of the mentee for the purpose of informal feedback and suggestions; such observation is not a formal teaching evaluation.
The mentor will sit in on the annual meeting of the chair with the junior faculty member and receive a copy of the follow-up letter. Anything discussed in this meeting or in print will be strictly confidential. As a general principle, mentors should only share information discussed between mentor and mentee with the approval of the mentee.
• The responsibilities of the mentor are limited. They do not replace any existing procedures or policies that entail guidance from the chair, information from the PRB regarding tenure and promotion, or the written departmental tenure policy. These formal structures have precedence over informal mentoring, with the ultimate responsibility for guidance toward tenure and promotion residing with the department chair.
Similarly, guidance from the mentor is not intended to replace informal mentoring from colleagues who share an academic field or subspecialty. Guidance regarding substantive matters—knowledge about conferences, fellowships, publication and presses, or intellectual issues particular to specific areas of study—should still be sought from colleagues (within and outside the department) who share fields of specialization.
• This policy will begin in 2015-16. Any current junior faculty can opt in before their first contract renewal. For those beyond this point, current policies apply.