This mentoring program is intended to be a useful way of helping new faculty members adjust to their new environment. Whether it is academe itself that is new, or simply the UCSD campus, assistance from a well-respected mentor can be an invaluable supplement to the guidance and assistance that a Department Chair provides during the early years at a new university. The program’s success will depend on the new faculty members, their mentors and their department chairs all taking an active role in the acclimation process. An outline of the responsibilities of each is outlined below.
As soon as the appointment is made, the chair assigns a mentor. For faculty appointed as Associate Professor or Professor, assignment of a mentor is less critical, but highly encouraged, to serve as a means of acclimating the new faculty member to UCSD. The chair is responsible for advising new faculty on matters pertaining to academic reviews, and advancement. As the mentor may also be asked to provide informal advice, it is also the chair’s responsibility to see that mentors have current information on UCSD’s academic personnel process.
The mentor should contact the new faculty member in advance of his/her arrival at the University and then meet with the new faculty member on a regular basis over at least the first two years. The mentor should provide informal advice to the new faculty member on aspects of teaching, research and committee work or be able to direct the new faculty member to appropriate other individuals. Often the greatest assistance a mentor can provide is simply the identification of which staff one should approach for which task. Funding opportunities both within and outside of the campus are also worth noting. The mentor should treat all interactions and discussions in confidence. There is no evaluation or assessment of the new faculty member on the part of the mentor, only supportive guidance and constructive feedback.
The new faculty member should keep his/her mentor informed of any problems or concerns as they arise. When input is desired, new faculty should leave sufficient time in the grant proposal and paper submission process to allow his/her mentor the opportunity to review and critique drafts.
The most important tasks of a good mentor are to help the new faculty member achieve excellence and to acclimate to UCSD. Although the role of mentor is an informal one, it poses a challenge and requires dedication and time. A good relationship with a supportive, active mentor has been shown to contribute significantly to a new faculty member’s career development and satisfaction.
In cases of changing commitments, incompatibility, or where the relationship is not mutually fulfilling, either the new faculty member or mentor should seek confidential advice from his/her Chair. It is important to realize that changes can and should be made without prejudice or fault. The new faculty member, in any case, should be encouraged to seek out additional mentors as the need arises.