Mentoring Faculty

Professor speaks to his class in language lab, CAS
Professor Scott Hartley, wearing protective glasses, talks with students in the lab, CAS

Department chairs and program directors can take many steps to increase the chances of success for faculty members within the department or program through purposeful mentoring. Mentoring can be offered individually or in groups by the chair or by an assigned faculty peer. It can be accomplished through multiple venues, including informal office meetings, email, campus events, shadowing a faculty member (by agreement), touring a lab, travel support, phone calls, meals and coffee breaks, professional meetings, symposia, conferences, or workshops.


  • Provide information about promotion and tenure processes
  • Demystify departmental, divisional, and university culture
  • Provide constructive and supportive feedback on specific work or career goals
  • Provide encouragement and support
  • Help to foster important connections

Suggested Topics

  • Departmental culture
  • Key resources on campus
  • Grant sources; strategies for funding
  • Publishing outlets
  • Teaching
  • Key conferences to attend
  • Service roles inside and outside the University
  • Student recruitment
  • Career goals and pathways, including future administrative roles
  • Tenure and promotion processes
  • Departmental Governance
  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for recreation or involvement in region

Tips for Chairs & Directors

  • Build into the evaluations of senior faculty a share of responsibility for mentoring new colleagues. Have senior faculty document in their annual report their efforts to assist and mentor junior faculty members.
  • Take multiple opportunities to communicate to colleagues the importance of mentoring their colleagues.
  • Ensure that procedures and standards involved in tenure and promotion processes are clear to appropriate faculty.
  • Ensure that all faculty know about policies intended to ease work-family conflict such as stopping the tenure clock.
  • Share the department’s governance document with the faculty member.
  • Create regular opportunities that encourage informal interaction between all levels of faculty. You might create a fund for ordering pizza or buying coffee for faculty to use when mentoring.
  • Provide a “tip sheet” for new faculty. Possible items to include: how to secure an ID card, sign up for insurance and benefits; contact information for people for key services in the department or University; and where to go for support (centers, offices).
  • Provide senior faculty with guidelines and information on how to mentor junior colleagues.
  • Make the expectations and criteria for promotion clear.
  • Meet regularly and individually with faculty, and give frequent and accurate feedback to all faculty.