What is a mentoring plan?
Mentoring plans allow departments to articulate how new faculty members will receive the mentoring and support that they need to be successful. While mentoring may happen “organically” for some faculty members, research shows that there are significant differences among faculty members in how much support and mentoring they receive, and even in how much honest feedback they receive.
Mentoring plans also help departments recognize where there are gaps that need addressing, as well as how to help faculty gain access to resources and supports that exist on campus for faculty members. Given that faculty from underrepresented groups (by gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, first generation status, nationality, or other factors) are less likely to receive mentoring, such plans also help develop more inclusive environments.
Ideally, each department will have a “generic” mentoring plan, which they use in requesting new hires, but that plan will be carefully tailored to each new faculty member, getting their input into the elements of their mentoring plan. Including the mentoring plan as part of the final negotiations in terms of salary and resources, can help recruit faculty members – since the mentoring plan makes clear the department’s investment in their career success.
What is a mentoring team?
UMass ADVANCE encourages mentoring teams, groups of faculty members who can mentor colleagues on different elements of their career, as opposed to the guru model, individual mentor-mentee relationships. Many UMass faculty members are award of the “mutual mentoring” approach developed by Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Jung Yun, and Brian Baldi, an extremely successful model of network mentoring.
Research shows that mentoring teams are much more successful than individual mentor-mentee relationships, because most faculty have a variety of mentoring needs. Teams also distributes the efforts across more faculty members, and support peer mentoring strategies that allow all faculty members to benefit from their engagement in faculty mentoring. Importantly, faculty members should play a role in identifying members of their mentoring team, and mentoring teams may also change over time, and as faculty members have different needs or questions as their careers evolve.
In larger departments, mentoring teams might include three or four faculty who can provide support for different elements of the faculty member’s experience. For example, one faculty might teach similar courses, another might have recently gone through tenure, and another might be in the same subfield. Research shows that shared identities among mentors and mentees can foster inclusion, but is not necessary for successful mentoring. In small departments, it may be that the entire department is a mentoring team. Such an approach is fine – and actually a way of creating a more inclusive and supportive space for all.
Template Mentoring Plan
Paragraph One: Summarized the Key Goals for the Mentoring Plan
[The goal for this paragraph is to lay out the elements that lead to a successful career in the department, and might note such things as publications, performances, published proceedings, grant funding, teaching, mentoring, service, leadership, as would be appropriate for someone in the discipline and at their career stage]
Paragraph Two: Summarize the Key Strengths the Candidate Brings to the Position
[The goal for this paragraph is to lay out the key strengths that the candidate already has demonstrated; this helps ensure that the goals below are aligned with the specifics of a particular candidate, and appropriate mentoring is identified in the areas where they need growth. For example, if they have no prior teaching experience, it will be important to ensure mentoring in that area. The candidate themselves should be involved in crafting this paragraph, and all of the remaining paragraphs.]
Paragraph Three: Identify the mentor or mentoring team
[The goal for this paragraph is to identify specific mentors that the candidate has identified, and who are willing to serve as mentors. Ideally these teams will be composed of faculty members who can provide mentoring in key areas of growth, and will be diverse by rank and on other metrics. Mentoring teams will play a role in advocating for the candidate, and nominating them for awards. Identify specific faculty members who can play this role. If the person would benefit from interdisciplinary engagement, identify approaches to developing mentoring connections in other units].
Paragraph Four: Identify key resources provided to candidate
[The goal for this paragraph is to recognize the resources that are provided as part of the mentoring plan. This might include a small budget for lunches with a mentoring team, and a specific plan for meetings with the mentoring team for advice and support (at least once a semester), the chair/head (regularly, particularly in initial years), or members of the Personnel Committee to provide guidance for tenure and promotion (at least yearly). This might also include professional development for conference attendance, or funds to bring in an external senior mentor for a talk and networking, research funds, etc.]
Paragraph Five: Identify key supports regarding publication, presentation, creative performance of work
[The goal for this paragraph is to identify the supports for research and creative activities of the faculty member, taking into consideration their previous record. This might include things like brown-bags, mentoring and comments from members of the mentoring team, as well as noting connections to mentoring supports in the college or the university, such as the Office of Faculty Development or the Office of Equity & Inclusion.
Paragraph Six: Identify key supports regarding research proposal development or development of new work
[The goal for this paragraph is to identify the supports for research proposal development, where appropriate, or development of new work or a creative works or research agenda, taking into consideration their previous record. This might include things like mentoring and comments from members of the mentoring team, connections to Office of Research Development and Office of Pre-Award Services, Office of Faculty Development, or where appropriate, specific institutes like Institute for Applied Life Sciences, Institute for Social Science Research, Center for Research on Families, or Interdisciplinary Studies Institute.]
Paragraph Seven: Identify candidate’s teaching interests, releases, and number of preparations expected, as well as mentoring expectations; identify strong mentors in the area of teaching and mentoring.
[The goal for this paragraph is to identify the supports for teaching and mentoring development, taking into consideration their previous record. Identifying the expected number of preparations, and the specific courses that a candidate would be interested in teaching, helps solidify an effective mentoring approach to teaching development. This might include things like mentoring on syllabi and classroom visits and comments from mentors, connections to Center for Teaching and Learning, etc. This might also include making connections to National Research Mentoring Network trainings offered on campus through the Graduate School].
Paragraph Seven: Identify candidate’s service expectations, as well as opportunities for leadership development.
[The goal here is to identify service expectations, and how service assignments will work to integrate the candidate into the department and ensure that they learn how the department works. The role of mentors in helping the candidate develop a service profile should be mentioned. Leadership development opportunities may also be mentioned here, and this might include making connections to the Office of Faculty Development.
Paragraph Eight: Identify work-life balance supports, including those that are not relevant at the moment.
[The goal here is to identify resources and supports for work life balance. These issues change over the career span, and can include health issues, care issues for parents, partners, children, or siblings, sleep and leisure, finding community, and other issue. Opportunities to learn more from the Office of Faculty Development, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, etc. might be mentioned here].
Paragraph Nine: Emphasize the variety of mentoring supports on campus, and the importance of engaging in these resources.
[The goal here is to identify supports for faculty across the university, such as programming within a specific college, through the department, through the Office of Faculty Development, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the National Research Mentoring Network through the Graduate School, the ADVANCE program, or through other institutes and centers on campus.]
What resources exist for faculty mentoring?
The Office of Faculty Development has many resources and support for career advancement, including mutual mentoring team and micro grants, leadership development for all faculty, as well as Heads & Chairs, scholarly writing retreats, coaches, and editors. They provide important mentoring tools for UMass faculty on their website. Contact: OFD@umass.edu
The Office of Equity and Inclusion works with Amel Ahmed, Associate Provost for Equity & Inclusion, to provide programming targeting support for faculty members from underrepresented groups in the academy, including social events, scholarly writing retreats, etc. Contact: Amel Ahmed
The Center for Teaching and Learning provides support through consultations, workshops, fellowships and community of practice groups for teaching development and diversity & inclusion within the instructional context. Contact: CTL@umass.edu
In addition, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences provides an excellent array of mentoring materials curated by Jennifer Lundquist, Senior Associate Dean, including tips for mentors, mentees, and suggested topics for conversations. Contact: Jennifer Lundquist.
Suggested Citation: Joya Misra. 2019. Mentoring Plan Template. UMass Amherst ADVANCE Program.