CAFNR Faculty Mentoring

It is a goal in CAFNR to recruit high quality faculty members, provide a fertile work environment, and nurture them to be successful. Part of the nurturing process is to provide mentoring to guide the faculty member in navigating the complexities of the job. The mentoring process has components of clarifying expectations, providing direction, evaluating progress, and advocating for the faculty member.

Pre-tenured Faculty

The core of the mentoring process is a mentoring committee for each faculty member. For a new pre-tenure hire, the Division Director or designee appoints the Chair of a mentoring committee.  The Chair and new faculty member then select two additional members. The Chair should encourage the new faculty member to meet with potential mentoring committee members prior to selection to assess fit. The committee should be composed of experienced faculty members with expertise in the mentee’s area of specialization, both appointment and disciplinary if possible, and should give appropriate consideration to diversity. The committee is expected to meet with the faculty member twice in the first year and annually thereafter early in the calendar year. The Chair of the mentoring committee is responsible for setting the meeting. The faculty member is encouraged to request additional meetings to discuss specific topics/situations as required.

Examples of areas of focus for the mentoring committee during meetings:

  1. What are the expectations for the position with respect to the faculty member’s appointment? Those expectations should reflect published field specific expectations from the respective Division’s approved workload policy.
  2. Which agencies, industry sources, or foundations might be reasonable sources for seeking funding? The committee should provide assistance with grantsmanship and CAFNR processes.
  3. Does the faculty member’s rate of progress on publications meet expectations and is the faculty member targeting appropriate journals?
  4. Is the service load for the faculty member appropriate and should the committee recommend to the division director an adjustment in committee appointments?
  5. Is appropriate time being devoted to teaching and graduate mentoring, and likewise, should some adjustment in expectation be recommended?
  6. Is appropriate collaboration occurring? The committee might make recommendations for productive relationships.
  7. Are there other issues which are impeding the faculty member’s progress with which the mentoring committee could be of assistance?
  8. Is the faculty member taking an appropriate and timely approach to developing the tenure dossier?

A letter to the Division Director should be developed following the annual meeting in which the progress of the faculty member is evaluated, points of emphasis for the annual evaluation are identified, and areas in which the faculty member is in need of assistance are specified. A copy of the letter by the Chair should be sent to all committee members and the candidate for input before sending it to the Division Director. A final copy of the letter should be provided to the faculty member.

Post-tenured Faculty

Results from faculty satisfaction surveys suggest that continued mentoring following tenure is valuable to help assure a favorable trajectory toward promotion to professor. The objectives of second-stage mentoring are similar to those for pre-tenured faculty members. The post-tenured faculty member has the advantage of having a better understanding of resources, including potential collaborators, available on and outside of campus. Mentoring of the post-tenured faculty members is likely to be better received if the mentee has had an opportunity to have input into the makeup of the mentoring committee, thus we recommend that a mentoring group (at rank of Professor) should be identified jointly by the Director and faculty member. All faculty members already receive feedback on programmatic performance annually through current divisional processes. Consequently, requests for feedback on progress towards promotion should be made only on a periodic (2-year) basis. The mentoring committee should also be available for advising on an as-needed basis.

To receive feedback, a faculty member should submit a summary of activities and accomplishments within their appointment areas. The summary should be prepared in accordance with promotion criteria provided in the annual Provost’s promotion call document in conjunction with the CAFNR specific attributes of Tenured Professors or Professional Track Professors from the CAFNR P&T website as well as division specific workload expectations.

The process is designed to provide useful feedback on promotion progress without an excessive preparation burden for the faculty member and without an excessive assessment burden for the mentoring committee.  To this end, a faculty member who desires feedback should provide three items of information to the committee:

  1. A statement of appointment distribution among research, teaching/extension, and service. This information will inform the committee of the faculty member’s priority activities.  If the appointment has shifted significantly over time, an explanation should be provided.
  2. A complete CV that summarizes the faculty member’s career accomplishments, with accomplishments as an Associate Professor distinguished from previous accomplishments. The faculty member should be provided with one or more model CVs.
  3. A brief summarization of accomplishments/progress for each attribute for expected performance of full Professors that is appropriate to your appointment. A link to the list of attributes of Tenured Professors or Professional Track Professors is provided above.

On the basis of this documentation, the committee will provide its opinion on strengths and weaknesses concerning progress towards promotion. The committee opinion will be provided informally through conversation rather than a formal letter.