Management and Organization Department Faculty Mentoring Program

The M&O Department Faculty Mentoring Program provides each assistant tenure-track professor (mentees) in the M&O Department access to an assigned senior tenured faculty member (mentors) who is devoted to facilitating the mentee’s development of the requisite professional skills and attitudes for personal, institutional, and career success. Participation in the mentoring program is a voluntary, mutually agreed upon arrangement that is driven by input from the mentee as to the type of mentor they are seeking: senior faculty members volunteer to serve as mentors and allow mentees to select them based upon their own, internal needs and criteria. The formal assignment to a mentor also does not preclude mentees from informally seeking out additional mentors, based upon the unique skills certain other senior faculty may possess that meet their needs. Mentors can have multiple mentees, if their time and effort can be applied equally to their mentees. Mentoring is recognized as an aspect of departmental service and included in faculty activity reports.

In no way is the mentor program intended to be supervisory or evaluative.  This is important for both senior faculty mentors and mentees alike to bear in mind given the M&O Department’s strong tradition of faculty governance and collective decision-making and evaluations, including annual performance appraisals. The Department Chair will not serve as a formally assigned mentor; because the role of the Department Chair involves its own decision-making separate from the faculty in a variety of human resource decisions (e.g., P&T decisions, remuneration and space allocation), assigning the Department Chair as a formal mentor sets up the potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest and/or equity issues. The Department Chair can nevertheless still serve informally as an invaluable source of guidance and advice to junior faculty. In so doing, this should be done with the understanding that their advice may carry more impact, for better or worse, on junior faculty than that of any other faculty member.

Assignment of Mentors: The Department Chair will be responsible for the assignment of mentor-mentee relationships. Each assistant professor who is interested in participating in the M&O Department’s mentoring program will provide the names of three potential mentors to the Department Chair. The Department Chair will contact the potential mentors to assess their interest in serving in the program and fit with the prospective mentee(s). Assignments will be determined by the Department Chair based upon this input. Every attempt will be made to assign mentor-mentee relationships that meet the mentee’s needs and preferences. Assignments will be made in the year that an assistant professor joins the M&O Department, and assignments can be changed or revisited as appropriate. 

Expectations/Best Practices[1]

The mentor-mentee relationship should be collegial, informative, flexible, and mutually agreed upon at the outset of the process. The mentor should be available to coach, guide, and champion the mentee. Effective mentoring involves regular interaction between the mentor and mentee; the mentor and mentee should talk, check-in, or meet as often as necessary to meet the needs of both parties.  

At the start of the relationship, both the mentor and mentee should have their own initial thoughts about what they are comfortable with in the mentoring relationship, including how they see their own roles (as mentor, as mentee). Some initial questions to consider include: Do you prefer a formal relationship that remains 100% ‘professional’? Or would you like to get to know your mentor/mentee better, including his or her personal interests? What kinds of topics will you talk about? How often and under what circumstances will meetings take place? Where are you comfortable meeting—only on campus? At a café? At your own house? For mentors: what are your expectations of your mentee? For mentees: what are your expectations of your mentor? These are important things to consider up from so that you can set expectations of the relationship from the outset and ensure that you are comfortable with the parameters of the mentor/mentee relationship. These issues then are best discussed at your initial meeting(s), and open for negotiation or change as you develop your relationship. See the “Planning for and Defining a Mentoring Relationship” which can be used as a tool to start your relationship off on the right foot.

Mentor Best Practices

Mentoring tasks can include (but are not limited to): discussion of professional goals, scientific leadership, teaching advice, balancing priorities and expectations in the academic environment, techniques for effective time management, ways of addressing work-life balance issues, understanding governance within the department and university, managing professional relationships with peers, and management skills for guiding doctoral students. For an excellent source of further suggestions/resources for mentors, see: University of Albany, Resources for Mentors

Mentor Best Practices can include (but are not limited to):

  • Be proactive: seek out the mentee and build a rapport with them.
  • Be understanding: some mentees may not feel comfortable asking certain questions/seeking guidance. Be prepared to solicit more information.
  • Be available: schedule opportunities to meet, communicate and collaborate.
  • Listen: be a sounding board; empathize; zero in on specific interests and concerns.
  • Facilitate: tap into your experience; help locate a resource or solution; and, help the mentee solve his or her own problem, rather than giving overly giving direction
  • Be developmental: focus on the mentoring partner’s development; resist the urge to produce a clone.
  • Be genuine: Develop mutual trust and respect; value the mentee partner as a person; maintain confidentiality
  • In practice, the Mentor’s role will vary depending upon the unique needs and concerns of the new faculty member and could include any of the following:
    • Sounding Board…listen to and supporting creative ideas and suggestions.
    • Resource…lead the new faculty member to information or the person with the answer.
    • Advisor…offer your opinion or advice on a real or hypothetical problem; aid in addressing work/life balance issues, professional choices, techniques for effective time management, doctoral student advising.
    • Guide…help navigate the maze of buildings, offices, and resources.
    • Interpreter…decipher policies, departmental and college norms, campus acronyms and “codes”.
    • Reviewer…provide feedback on a papers or instructional materials.
    • Role Model…share your teaching and research practices, tips and techniques.
    • Advocate…facilitate the new faculty’s social and professional network, identify professional opportunities for advancement.

Mentee Best Practices

For an excellent source of further suggestions/resources for mentees, see: University of Albany, Resources for Mentees

Mentee Best Practices can include (but are not limited to):

  • Be proactive: think about your goals, your values, and what you are passionate about.
  • Share: share your plans and goals with your mentor and ask how doable they seem.
  • Engage: ask the mentor questions, share comments, voice concerns, and identify issues
  • Seek advice: ask your mentor about what you should be doing to enhance your professional growth and excellence in research, teaching, and service
  • Take personal responsibility: for your academic career; be an active agent and judge of the appropriate course of action for your personal, professional, and career advancement

For additional suggestions and resources for successful mentoring/menteeing, see:

[1] The following is largely adopted from the faculty mentoring programs in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Science (see and at the University of Albany (see