Faculty Affairs

Steinhardt Junior Faculty Mentoring Program Overview

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 New York University (NYU) campus, assistance from a well-respected, more experienced colleague can be an invaluable supplement to the guidance and assistance that a department chair provides a new faculty member during her or his 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. The Steinhardt Junior Faculty Mentoring Program pairs new faculty with senior colleagues who have achieved tenure in the same school or at other schools within the University and who may reside in the same or different department than their junior faculty colleague. Each pair works together to help the junior member set priorities, develop a network of advisors, increase visibility in the NYU and professional communities, and understand NYU's institutional culture, and the tenure process.

Click here for a Full Program Description of the Junior Faculty Mentoring Program

Basic Program Principles

  1. It is the responsibility of departments and programs in which new faculty hold tenure-track appointments to mentor those faculty in ways that help them to reach their full potential in teaching and research and to be successful in the tenure process.
  2. Mentoring of new faculty is a responsibility of all tenured faculty members, and a particular responsibility of the chair.
  3. Mentoring is both a formal and an informal activity and it is about the substance of teaching and research in the academy as well as about external measures of success such as in which journals to publish.
  4. The time commitment for the formal mentoring relationship as per the Steinhardt Junior Faculty Mentoring Program would be for the period of one year.

The Responsibility of the Department

  1. As soon as a candidate is offered a position and accepts, the department chair and the search committee chair should assign a mentor and develop a mentoring plan for the new faculty member. The prospective faculty member should be consulted in developing this plan. The plan should include attention to teaching, undergraduate and graduate supervision, and research and should be predicated on being helpful rather than authoritarian.
    1. 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 NYU Steinhardt's academic personnel process. These issues will also be addressed through the orientation programs led by both the Office of Faculty Affairs, and a senior tenured faculty member.
  2. Departments and programs should work to develop a "climate of mentoring" in which all members of the department/program spontaneously and informally mentor their new colleagues.
  3. Chairs and directors should support collaborative teaching and research, team teaching, and interdisciplinary teaching efforts on the part of junior faculty, both for the intrinsic value of such work and because collaborative work is itself a form of mentoring.
  4. Chairs and directors should have a friendly conversation in a formal appointment with tenure-track faculty at the end of each fall semester. That conversation should include discussion of the candidate's research and his/her teaching experience for the year. It should offer advice and encouragement to the candidate and should seek to find constructive ways of addressing any emerging problems.
  5. Chairs and directors should recognize that some candidates may in some contexts (e.g., women or minorities in departments/programs with very few such people) face special challenges in being fully accepted into the department/program and in receiving the kinds of informal mentoring that both help their careers and make them feel comfortable.
  6. Service assignments to tenure-track candidates should serve as mentoring contexts in which the candidate learns about the values and operations of the University (e.g., the curriculum committee).
  7. One is not born a mentor but learns to become a mentor. Faculty mentors in a department/program should meet occasionally, but regularly, to discuss problems and strategies around mentoring and to share their knowledge. Department or program members should conduct themselves, in both formal and informal settings, in ways that mentor by example.

Mentor/Mentee Matching Criteria

The following criteria will be considered to determine the best possible mentor/mentee matches:

  • Academic interest
  • Specialty
  • Shared personal interest
  • Self-directed pairing

The Responsibility of the Mentor

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 the first year. 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 the campus are also worth noting. The mentor should treat all dealings and discussions in confidence. There is no evaluation or assessment of the new faculty member on the part of mentor, only supportive guidance and constructive criticism.

The Responsibility of the New Faculty Member

The Faculty Mentoring Program at Steinhardt is designed to help the new faculty members plan their careers with the advice of more experienced colleagues. Because the program is set up for the benefit of the junior faculty, the younger partner in each mentor/mentee pair should take considerable responsibility for making the relationship work. The mentee is expected to contact the mentor to set up the first meeting, at which both parties should reach a clear understanding of what they expect from each other. They should agree on the frequency, duration, and place of meetings, and they should decide whether or not the mentor will have an "open door" policy so as to be available for mentees at any time. Mentees should be encouraged to formulate their career goals clearly, define sharply any problems they perceive and bring specific problems to meetings for discussion. The mentor may wish to ask for some such material in writing. Mentors cannot guarantee the happiness and work environment of mentees at Steinhardt and they cannot make promises as to salary equity, but they can offer support, encouragement and useful information. It is important to establish how issues of confidentiality will be dealt with. If total confidentiality is expected, the mentor might, for instance, find it difficult to approach a Chair on behalf of the mentee when there is a dispute among colleagues. The mentor/mentee pair should agree to a no-fault conclusion of the relationship if either party feels that the intended goal is not being achieved, without either blaming the other.

Mentees can select more than one mentor, perhaps for different purposes, and mentors can counsel more than one mentee. 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.

Changing Mentors

  • a mentee should consider changing mentors if the mentor is clearly and consistently uninterested in her, if the mentor consistently depresses the mentee by undervaluing her abilities or questioning her motives, if the mentor displays any other signs of undermining the relationship (e.g. racial, sexual, ethnic or other prejudice), or if there is simply incompatibility
  • a mentee should consider adding a mentor if the current mentor consistently cannot answer questions or offer advice.

Important Forms, Appendices, and Resources