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Mentoring Report

Submitted by the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring
and The Office of Faculty Development and Diversity

See Appendix A for a list of authors


The 2006 Task Force Report on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness called attention to the need for greater mentoring of University of Rochester faculty. Since that time, the 2009 Listening Tour Report and a Faculty Working Group on Mentoring have also concluded that mentoring is an important need throughout the University which is not consistently met. Accordingly, the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity (OFDD) and the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring recommend that each school construct its own faculty mentoring plan that will meet basic expectations: (1) the type of mentoring offered to faculty (informal vs. formal) needs to be communicated clearly to all incoming faculty; (2) the distinction and relationship between faculty assessment and mentoring needs to be made clear to faculty; (3) members of the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring themselves are important resource persons in their own schools and/or departments; (4) if needed, the OFDD will offer assistance to new underrepresented minority faculty, in collaboration with the dean/department chair, in finding mentors. The OFDD will also collect mentoring plans from each school, starting in 2011, as part of its overall assessment activities. Finally, workshops and conferences will be provided by the OFDD to supplement school-based and other offerings. This overall approach will allow maximal autonomy for the schools and provide the type of mentoring most specific to the individual faculty member’s needs.

The document that follows is the result of a series of meetings that involved the OFDD, Faculty Working Group on Mentoring, and Provost. The consensus that evolved was presented to the Deans’ Committee on Administrative Practices and their comments have been incorporated in this final version. The OFDD will oversee implementation during the 2010-11 academic year, working with deans of the individual schools, the Senior Associate Provost for Faculty Development, and the members of the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring. Progress on implementation will be provided as part of the Annual Report on Diversity issued by the OFDD each spring and the report to the Faculty Senate.


Many thanks to all who worked tirelessly to complete this effort and to the Provost, Deans, and President for their support of the faculty.

I) Introduction and Background

The 2006 Task Force Report on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness found that lack of mentoring was a specific barrier to faculty advancement that could be addressed through formal programs. Recommendation 29 urged the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity (OFDD) to assemble best practices and provide information about mentoring that could assist schools.

In 2008-2009 Lynne Davidson, then Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, along with Carol Shuherk, Senior Associate Provost, and Frederick Jefferson, University Intercessor, conducted a series of interviews designed to understand the professional lives and needs of University of Rochester faculty (known as “The Listening Tour”). Their report, Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention at the University of Rochester: A Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Report1 was accepted by President Seligman in December 2009. The need for more consistent faculty mentoring was a key finding:

“Of the 94 faculty with whom we met, 55 raised issues associated with mentoring, and the relationship between faculty success and mentoring support, or conversely, faculty struggle in the absence of mentoring…Further, we know from the literature that if mentoring is left to chance, women will be less likely to experience a mentoring relationship than men and faculty of color will be less likely to have a mentor than white faculty (see, for example, Judy Jackson, “The story is not in the numbers: NWSA Journal, 16:1, p.172). Our data reflects this as well. Of the 55 listening tour faculty who brought up mentoring, 46 are in our “underrepresented” groups, nearly 2/3 of those in the category. There is an extensive academic literature demonstrating that people who are mentored are more productive and more successful than those who are not.

Recommended Action: We recommend that the University take steps to ensure that faculty from academic departments where mentoring is not the norm be offered access to mentoring resources available outside of their departments. These may include, for example, an office that assists faculty in locating a mentor elsewhere within (or in some cases, outside of) the University. We also recommend that the University provide appropriate programming (e.g., workshops) to support faculty mentors and mentees campus-wide. Finally, we endorse the 2006 Task Force recommendation regarding [valuing] mentoring as a factor for promotion.”

In May 2009, the OFDD began a benchmarking process of mentoring programs at peer institutions and it sponsored a presentation by the founder of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Mutual Mentoring Program. The audience included members of the University administration, department chairs, and faculty leaders. At the conclusion of the presentation, the OFDD invited audience members to participate in follow up, which resulted in a group of 32 faculty members who formed the ad hoc Faculty Working Group on Mentoring (see appendix A for membership). Over the next several months, the group came together to review the benchmarking results, the academic literature on mentoring, and the mentoring practices in each of the University of Rochester’s schools and colleges. Members of this diverse group have been steadfast in their desire to improve the working environment for faculty and, in that way, better facilitate the University’s mission. Members come from a broad range of academic disciplines and faculty ranks, representing a broad swath of the university community. The Faculty Working Group on Mentoring concluded that faculty mentoring is uneven across the University of Rochester and that faculty who receive little-to-no mentoring are at a disadvantage. It therefore put forth proposals for change.

Currently, most schools at the University of Rochester use a combination of informal and formal practices to mentor faculty. In some settings, informal mentoring is often supplemented by (or characterized by) small group meetings, workshops, and written material describing best practices. Formal mentoring programs have evolved in some settings, in which faculty are uniformly assigned mentors. Formal programs have been tailored to meet specific programmatic/departmental needs and appear mainly to be the practice of larger departments. Because of the work involved with formal programs, there is often a responsible party overseeing the program to make certain that the program is meeting its goals and that there is uniform access to mentoring. With informal mentoring, there is less likely to be oversight and the goals are more task-oriented. For more detailed information about mentoring in each school, see appendix B.

II) General Principles and Recommendations

The Faculty Working Group on Mentoring met in parallel to the drafting of the Listening Tour Report and in November 2009 issued a draft of its own based on the following key principles. These principles are consistent with best practices as described in the academic literature on mentoring:

  • Mentorship should be an integral part of a value system that places support and nurturance of faculty members’ professional development among the University’s highest priorities.
  • Responsibility needs to rest at the school level, with faculty, deans and department chairs responsible for setting the expectation that senior faculty mentor junior faculty and that junior faculty will be assisted in finding a mentor (s) if they wish, where there is no formal system. The Provost and OFDD will be available should the faculty member need additional help not available through the department chair or dean.
  • University-sponsored efforts associated with faculty mentoring should not interfere with department and school-based mentorship programs and relationships that already exist throughout the University.
  • No University-sponsored efforts associated with faculty mentoring will require mentoring for faculty who do not wish to participate.

During the subsequent months, the draft was revised and additional meetings were held with the Provost and with the Deans’ Committee on Administrative Practices. The following recommendations represent the final consensus on basic expectations for school-based mentoring constructs:

Recommendation 1: The type of mentoring offered by the school/department needs to be clearly communicated to all incoming faculty, especially if informal mentoring is the norm.

Recommendation 2: The distinction and relationship between assessment and mentoring needs to be made clear to junior faculty. Faculty reviews and assessments are sometimes viewed as the critical time to provide advice and mentoring. Some junior faculty have reported that although they participate in an annual review, they have little or no access to mentoring.

Recommendation 3: The Faculty Working Group on Mentoring can be an advisory group within each school. Members of the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring can be key resource persons in their home departments, where they are most familiar with the problems and potential solutions.

Recommendation 4: All new faculty face the risk of experiencing career difficulties without strong mentor relationships. As recommended by The Listening Tour, the OFDD offers an initial meeting for all new faculty in which the importance of finding a mentor is stressed. OFDD has committed to individual interviews with new underrepresented faculty at the end of their first year. If they have not found mentors at that point, and if desired, the OFDD will collaborate with deans/department chairs to help locate appropriate mentoring support.

In summary, each school should develop its own construct for faculty mentoring guided by these recommendations. This school-based approach has the advantage of allowing maximal autonomy for the schools, providing the mentoring most specific to the individual faculty’s discipline, and low costs. OFDD will assess whether or not mentoring is happening in each school via the August assessment reports. OFDD will provide a voluntary mentor/mentoring workshop in the winter of 2011.

III) Mentoring Approaches to Consider

There are several approaches a school or department can take into consideration when designing faculty mentoring programs. One approach is designating a point person responsible for helping faculty find mentors in collaboration with their department chair. Another approach is assigning every new faculty member an advisor for the first few months. The advisor would help new faculty identify appropriate mentors and help the new faculty member understand the importance of mentoring and overall career development. A third approach is including mentoring workshops for both mentors and mentees in new faculty orientation meetings or annual faculty retreats held by schools and departments. A fourth approach, as described below, is employing traditional and non-traditional types of mentoring. Faculty mentorship can result from the formation of multiple types of partnerships. The form(s) of mentorship an individual chooses will depend on his or her specific needs. Mentoring relationships might include:

  • Traditional mentorship: Occurs as a one-on-one relationship between an experienced mentor and less experienced mentee. In this partnership, the more senior faculty member guides the career development of the junior faculty member while providing support.
  • Near-peer mentorship: Occurs between individuals who are closely related in professional, teaching, or personal experiences and may share similar career development pathways. This relationship allows for mutual support and opportunity for growth. Near-peer mentoring may occur between two individuals or among a small group of faculty with a similar academic or professional focus.
  • Group mentorship: Results from the formation of a small group of faculty members who share common interests or goals and seek interpersonal support, guidance, and information sharing. An example may include a group of individuals whose members wish to improve their writing skills in preparation for a manuscript or grant. Another example of a group may be faculty who wish to discuss career and family- life balance.
  • Distance mentorship: Results from the formation of a relationship between a mentor and mentee from different institutions. This type of mentoring allows the mentee to gain an outside perspective on specific topics while he or she obtains the opportunity to begin networking beyond the University.
  • Team mentorship: Occurs when more than one experienced mentor forms a relationship with a less experienced mentee. In this partnership, the more senior faculty members guide the career development of the junior faculty member on different topics while allowing the mentee to gain diverse perspectives. (See Eastman School of Music and School of Medicine and Dentistry for examples)

Note: The OFDD will offer consultation support to schools and colleges interested in developing the various mentoring strategies listed above, if the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring member is unable to help.

IV) Workshops and Conferences

Workshops and conferences are needed to fill gaps in specific faculty development areas that are common and lend themselves to brief educational intervention. A central mechanism for conferences or workshops is well suited if topics are carefully chosen. The UR Year One series has been well received and provides a rich array of important information: promotion process, research funding, teaching, and diversity. As well, the Clinical Translational Science Institute within the School of Medicine and Dentistry has several offerings on mentoring that are open to all members of the campus community. OFDD will help promote and publicize the availability of conferences and workshops related to faculty development and mentoring. At the start of the 2010 academic year, OFDD will conduct an electronic survey to determine current faculty needs for specific topics that should be centrally covered and that are not already offered. Several possible topics were suggested by the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring, some of which were adapted from the UMass presentation on Mutual Mentoring. Working with the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring, OFDD will sponsor a conference for early 2011. A list of potential topics follows.

  • Research/Performance Expertise: Knowledge and/or skills necessary to produce outstanding scholarship or performance career; suitable research questions and appropriate research methods; internal and external funding; grant writing skills; and manuscript feedback.
  • Guidance in the Tenure/Promotion Process: Guidance in the policies and procedures, as well as the most effective strategies, for successfully achieving promotion and tenure; priorities and expectations for teaching, research, and service within the specific department or school; guidance in assembling the tenure file/dossier; and using student evaluations productively.
  • Success in the Academic Culture: Establishment and nurturing of relationships with junior and senior colleagues; appropriate plans and timetables for regular communication with colleagues about research progress and the broader culture of academe.
  • Support for Teaching: Support for acquiring the skills to be an outstanding teacher; identification of resources for learning to use classroom technology; and developing teaching/learning strategies to meet varied learning needs.
  • Networking Within and Outside the University: Support in development of professional networks, maximizing the benefits of academic conferences, and finding those with similar interests and access to relevant resources.
  • Time Management and Work/Life Balance: Management of time across various aspects of faculty life (research, teaching, service, patient care); management of absences for out-of-town lectures, conferences, and performances; maintaining outside interests and hobbies; and handling child and family care and dual career issues.

V) Conclusion

Despite the recommendation of the 2006 Task Force Report that we should address faculty mentoring, this remains an important need throughout the University that is not consistently met. The recent attention to this issue from the Listening Tour Report and the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring have led to a call from both for greater efforts to ensure that all faculty have access to mentoring and that the University offer resources to fill unmet needs. Accordingly, the OFDD and the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring recommend that each school construct its own faculty mentoring plan that will meet basic expectations. These plans will be reviewed annually, starting in 2011, by the OFDD as part of its overall assessment activities. If needed, the OFDD will provide workshops and conferences to supplement school-based efforts and meet with individual underrepresented minority faculty to help facilitate location of a mentor. This school-based approach will allow maximal autonomy for the schools and provide the type of mentoring most specific to the individual faculty’s needs.

Appendix A

Faculty Working Group on Mentoring Membership

Arts, Sciences and Engineering

Andrew Berger, Associate Professor, Institute of Optics

Kara Bren, Professor, Department of Chemistry

John Michael, Professor, Department of English

Jannick Rolland, Professor, Institute of Optics

Sema Salur, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics

Dan Watson, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

School of Medicine and Dentistry

Linda Chaudron, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Yeates Conwell, Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Rita Dadiz, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Suzanne Karan, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology

Paige Lawrence, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine

Jane Liesveld, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology

Katia Noyes, Associate Professor, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine

Lawrence Saubermann, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Warner School of Education

Mary Jane Curry, Associate Professor

Linda Francis, Senior Information Analyst

Donna Harris, Assistant Professor

School of Nursing

Rita D’Aoust, Associate Professor

Sally E Fletcher, Senior Associate

Dianne Morrison-Beedy, Professor

Lisa Norsen, Associate Professor

Kathy Rideout, Associate Dean

Ying Xue, Assistant Professor

Eastman School of Music

Katherine Ciesinski, Professor, Department of Voice

Jean Guerrero, Assistant Professor, Department of Theory

Glen Mackin, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities

Russell Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Voice

Jan Opalach, Assistant Professor, Department of Voice

Provost’s Office

Frederick Jefferson, University Intercessor

Carol Shuherk, Senior Associate Provost

Office of Faculty Development and Diversity

Maggie Cassie, Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity

Vivian Lewis, Deputy to the President and Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity

Appendix B

Mentoring at the University of Rochester

School of Nursing (by Mary Dombeck and Kathy Parker)

Associate Dean Kathy Rideout approached the Warner Center in 2009 seeking help with developing a student-mentoring program to meet the requirements of a new grant. During discussions about the consultation process and goals, it became apparent that the planning and implementation effort should include all students, faculty, and staff. All tenure track faculty have been mentored by Harriet Kitzman, Dean of Research, but other faculty have felt excluded despite an informal system of pairing new faculty with a more senior faculty “buddy” for their first year. It was decided to mount an effort that would produce a School of Nursing (SON) mentoring strategy for students, faculty, and staff. Dean Kathy Parker approved the approach and added funding for this initiative. A SON Mentoring Design Team was established and there have been three faculty workshops on mentoring. Students have been offered traditional mentoring, near-peer mentoring, and group mentoring. Specific mentoring offerings for faculty and staff have not yet begun. Frederick Jefferson is the Warner Center consultant on the project. The SON Mentoring Design team includes faculty, staff, Associate Dean Rideout, and two Warner Center consultants. Lisa Norsen, SON associate professor, chairs the team.

Eastman School of Music (by Katherine Ciesinski and Doug Lowry)

Although there is no formal system for mentoring at the Eastman School, chairs are strongly encouraged to, and most do, meet with their departmental members once a year to review individual Faculty Activity Reports. New faculty receive a thorough orientation upon commencing their formal teaching responsibilities at Eastman. Informal mentoring also occurs, but as a policy we leave this to individual members of the department. We have begun a new team-mentoring program which involves two or more faculty members representing different levels of experience mentoring one new faculty member; i.e., one senior faculty member with many years of experience at Eastman who can advise on issues of service from the UR/Eastman perspective, and one relatively new faculty member who might advise on the applied teaching track and any perceived adjustment issues. The mentors meet formally one time each semester, typically off-campus over a meal. One mentor takes notes at these formal meetings and sends these notes and any warranted recommendations to the department chair with the intention to both chart and guide the mentee’s progress.

Simon Graduate School of Business (by Rajiv Dewan and Mark Zupan)

No formal structure exists to institutionalize faculty mentoring. The mentors are not assigned but are often in place by the first review of the faculty member. The process is driven mostly by research interests, and sometimes these change. If a mentee does not find a mentor by the first review (about 18 months after start), a senior faculty member is asked to initiate a mentoring relationship. Simon tries the organic approach first and intervenes as needed. Existing practices are detailed as follows:

  • Research: There is an active system of mentoring junior faculty through the research process: vetting ideas, developing manuscripts, brown-bag working paper presentations, and feedback and help with dealing with review reports. This kind of mentoring and collegiality helps Simon be among the most research productive faculty of any business school.
  • Teaching: Junior faculty members co-teach their first course with a more senior faculty member. This gives them exposure to pedagogical styles, student work expectations, grading standards, etc. There is an effort to match the co-taught course with the teaching assignment for the following term(s).
  • Service: There is an effort to try to minimize the committee work and other overhead for junior and untenured faculty. There is also an effort made to match service assignments with faculty interests. Assignments rotate and over time the faculty member becomes familiar with a wider cross-section of the school’s administrative tasks.

School of Medicine and Dentistry (by Vivian Lewis)

The Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics have well-established formalized mentoring structures, and these are often cited as models within the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD). In both departments, the Chair and Vice Chair oversee faculty mentoring. Each faculty member submits an annual academic career plan specifying their major areas of endeavor, accomplishments, and goals. Faculty members develop this plan with their mentor(s) and they often have more than one mentor, consistent with specific needs and areas of expertise. Across SMD, increased attention has been focused on the importance of mentoring in recent years, and more departments have looked to establish programs. In the last academic year, 19 of the 31 departments reported mentoring programs, 12 of which were formal programs. Institution-wide resources to support faculty development include: associate deanships for faculty development and the NIH funded Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Part of the research education and training portion of the CTSI grant includes a formal process for support, training, and evaluation of research mentors. Starting in 2009, many of these resources have been made available to the faculty at large within SMD and SON. This includes monthly workshops about mentoring that are open to all University faculty and have been web-archived. As well, a variety of research resources are available to all faculty: clinical research center, consultation on research ethics, biostatistics, writing courses, and pilot project funds.

Warner School of Education (by Raffaella Borasi)

Informal mentoring is the rule; usually with more than one senior faculty involved. This is complemented by other faculty development efforts such, as an intensive orientation for new faculty, workshops on grant writing and publications, and other professional development opportunities. Faculty who meet with their mentors for lunch meetings can get the cost covered by the Dean.

Arts, Sciences & Engineering (by Beth Olivares and Peter Lennie)

Arts, Sciences & Engineering (AS&E) has had no formal unit-wide policies on faculty mentoring, though some departments have developed their own systems and a few of these are sharply structured. In the Spring of 2009 the administration began to develop an AS&E-wide framework. The deans’ view was (and is) that an acceptable framework would have to accommodate wide variation across disciplines and that a uniform policy was unlikely to be useful or acceptable to departments.

The departments were asked (if they had not already done so) to develop and codify explicit procedures for fostering and monitoring the early career development of faculty. Departments were asked to address the following:

  • The formal procedures and/or meetings the department deploys to review and provide feedback on overall career progress. If a mentor is assigned, how is that assignment made and the relationship structured?
  • How the faculty member is given guidance about their research or scholarly projects.
  • How guidance is given to the faculty member on the development and delivery of courses, how feedback is provided on teaching, and who is responsible for providing that guidance/feedback.
  • How guidance is provided about career development beyond the University.
  • How guidance is made available on work-life balance, and how the department makes its collective experience accessible to the faculty member.

In addition, AS&E joined the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), which includes an anonymous job-satisfaction survey of faculty. Results are benchmarked against data from a set of peer institutions. On behalf of its members, COACHE undertakes anonymous job-satisfaction surveys and provides analyses benchmarked against results from a set of peer institutions. COACHE surveyed our junior tenure-track faculty (39 of 68 eligible faculty completed the survey— a rate slightly above average among peers), and delivered results in April 2010. The COACHE survey showed that, by comparison with our set of six peer institutions, AS&E compared favorably on:

  • Tenure practices (clarity of criteria, standards, body of evidence; decisions based on performance).
  • Tenure expectations (reasonableness; clarity on scholarship).
  • Nature of work (how time is spent as faculty member; access to RAs, TAs; clerical admin services; computing and research services; control of research; control of teaching).
  • Work and home (compatibility with having and raising children; balance between professional and personal time).
  • Climate, culture, collegiality (formal mentoring; personal and professional interactions with both tenured and untenured colleagues).
  • Global Satisfaction (department as place to work; administration cares about quality of life for pre-tenure faculty; would again choose to work at UR; overall rating of institution).

We compared unfavorably on:

  • Tenure expectations (clarity of, as advisor, campus citizen, member of community; reasonableness of, as campus citizen, member of community).
  • Nature of work (professional assistance for improving teaching).
  • Work and home (paid/unpaid personal leave).
  • Climate, culture, collegiality (peer reviews of teaching or research).

Men were generally more satisfied than women and minorities. The five most frequently-cited worst aspects of being at UR were (in descending order of frequency): geographical location; spousal/partner hiring program; lack of diversity; compensation; absence of others like me. (The last two items, compensation, and absence of others like me, were also among the top group for the peer set.)

At the annual chairs’ retreat in May 2010, mentoring was discussed in the light of established departmental practices and the COACHE report, and the deans have used this to guide thinking about an AS&E-wide framework.

Within AS&E, departments vary widely in the degree to which they have formalized mentoring, with the sciences and engineering tending to be the most formal (often centered on grant-seeking and research). With some exceptions, most departments provide little explicit guidance on teaching and managing the classroom; several departments lack mechanisms (beyond the formal annual performance review) for advising on the general progress of the junior faculty member’s career.

Future Plans for AS&E

Based on the departmental data, COACHE survey findings, and discussions with the chairs, an AS&E-wide framework for mentoring is likely to promote the following minimum standards for department policies and practices:

  • The department must have a procedure for assessing the effectiveness of teaching and providing assistance in strengthening it.
  • The department must have a mechanism through which it offers junior faculty help with key skills (such as grant-writing and book publishing) for managing research and scholarship.
  • At least once a year, the chair should discuss general career progress with each faculty member and, where relevant, provide guidance on what might be done to strengthen it. This discussion is distinct from the annual performance review, which is evaluative. The outcome of the discussion should be summarized in writing by the chair and made available to the faculty member.

Within AS&E, the administration will make available additional support to departments to help strengthen teaching. In the past, the administration has provided ad hoc help. Going forward, as part of a planned expansion of the mission of the office of Learning Assistance Services, there will be a professional staff position focused on teaching skills. Further positions may be added if experience warrants.

To address some of the concerns identified through the COACHE report, junior faculty on their arrival will receive a letter from the deans that provides general guidance on the support for career development that they should expect from their department. The letter will also offer general guidance on expectations of service to the campus and community.

1Although the 2009 report, Improving Faculty Recruitment and Retention at the University of Rochester: a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, had not yet been released at the time that the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring was formed,their work was done in parallel and the authors of that report shared some of the relevant results with the members of the Faculty Working Group on Mentoring.