The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Incoming Commonwealth Honors Dean Mari Castañeda Receives Mutual Mentoring Award

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Mari Castañeda, professor of communication and incoming dean to Commonwealth Honors, has been named a recipient of the Office of Faculty Development’s Mutual Mentoring Award for the 2020–21 academic year. The Mutual Mentoring program provides funding to individuals and groups of faculty for the purpose of developing robust professional mentoring networks that support growth as researchers, teachers, and leaders in their fields.

Professor Castañeda’s team consists of a group of women full professors from ten disciplinary areas and four colleges, who will meet monthly to discuss and plan the second half of their careers. Among the issues the team will discuss includes work/life balance, thriving in academic environments, promoting scholarship, and mentoring students to become future researchers.

“Only one in four women are full professors across higher education, and even less are administrative leaders at their respective institutions,” Castañeda said. “However, UMass has always been committed to issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity, so this grant offered the opportunity to examine and discuss the issues that women face in academia.”

For Castañeda and her team, it was important to create a space to engage in conversation about how achieving full professor status creates new career trajectories in which they can continue to make positive interventions in their respective disciplines.

The Mutual Mentoring grant award provides up to $6,000 for faculty teams. Castañeda and company will utilize the money to come together once a month over lunch to discuss their career objectives, research and teaching goals, and the ways in which they are making an impact in their respective academic fields. Castañeda’s team also is planning events for all women full professors and faculty at UMass to celebrate their accomplishments on campus and in their research.

“I’m excited I’ll be learning and engaging with a group of amazing women faculty who are leaders in their fields and fierce advocates for equity and justice in higher education,” said Castañeda.

Professor Castañeda’s research interests include digital media, telecommunication policy, Latina/ethic media studies, and academic cultures of care. She will begin as dean of the Commonwealth Honors College on September 1.