Faculty Affairs

Suggested Topics of Discussion for Mentor/Mentee Pairs

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  • How is the junior faculty member's department organized? (Divisions, Committees?) How are decisions made? What are the opportunities for junior faculty involvement?
  • Is support staff available to junior faculty? What can be expected of support staff? What supplies and expenses are covered by your department? By your school? Are there other resources available to cover expenses related to teaching and research?

Research and Resources

  • What conferences should the junior faculty attend? How much travel is allowed/expected/supported? How do you choose between large conferences and smaller events? What can you do at professional gatherings to gain the type of exposure that can lead to good contacts, and potential names of tenure-file reviewers?
  • Authorship etiquette: On collaborative efforts, how are the authors listed? Where do graduate student names go? How important is first authorship? How is alphabetical listing of authors viewed?
  • Where should you publish? What should you publish? How much/how often? What are your department/school's expectations regarding publication before tenure and promotion? How do journal/chapters in edited collections/conferences compare? How much "new" work is necessary to make something a "new" publication? Where should your publishing energy go: is a single-author book always preferable to an edited collection? May material published be submitted elsewhere? When is it time to worry if you haven't published?
  • Is it worthwhile to send published reports to colleagues here, and elsewhere? What's the line between sharing news of your accomplishments and appearing self-congratulatory?
  • Research and Resources (in a "soft money" and/or laboratory environment):
  • What research resources are available to you as a faculty member?
    • How important are grants? How do you get hooked into the grant-writing process? How much effort should you be investing in capturing research funding? How can you find people to assist you in writing the best possible proposal, to draw up the budget? What are departmental expectations of percent of your salary to be supported by external grant funding?
    • What is the expected percent of indirect cost funding on grants you received? Are there funding agencies to which you should not apply for grants because of inadequate indirect cost recovery? For laboratory space, what is the expectation of the amount of indirect funds recovery per square foot of laboratory space you occupy? How does the department assess shared cost for use of common equipment and its service contracts?
    • What do you see as your research "niche" in your department, in your area of research?
    • What does your chair see your area of research contributing to the department, eventually to the school?
  • Presentations on Research:
    • Should you give presentations within your department? How often? How are colloquia in your department organized? What are the opportunities for your graduate students to present their work?
    • Should you give presentations about your work at other universities/institutions/public settings? How often? How important is this? If it is important, how do you get invited to give these talks?
  • Collaborative Research:
    • Is collaborative work encouraged or discouraged in your department/school/fields? With other members of your department? With international colleagues? With colleagues who are senior/more established? With other junior faculty/graduate students? Long-standing collaborations, or single efforts? How important is it to have some (or all) single-author papers to your credit or papers with multiple authors in which you are first author or senior author?
    • Should you form a research group? What sort of activities should the group do, as opposed to work you should undertake individually?


  • Will you be expected to assemble a teaching portfolio for your tenure review? What goes into such a portfolio?
  • What are you expected to teach? Graduate, undergraduate, seminar, lecture, practicum, recitation, special topic, service course? Are some types of teaching more valued? How much flexibility is there in teaching schedules? Who controls the schedule?
  • Which are the "good" subjects to teach? Is it good to teach the same course semester after semester, stay with a single area? Or should you "teach around"?
  • Is it good to develop new courses? Specialized courses in your research area?
  • For faculty on "soft money," what are the departmental expectations for teaching load considering the number and size of grants that must be written to support the expected fraction of your salary? Is this a reasonable expectation? What about lectures in other courses?
  • How can you use a special topics course to get a new research project off the ground?
  • How much time should you spend on your course preparation? Where's the line between sufficient preparation and over-preparation?
  • Will you have a teaching assistant? Who will select him/her? What can you expect of a teaching assistant, and what are your responsibilities for evaluation of his or her performance?
  • Are there departmental/school standards for grading? What degree of freedom do you have in determining course content? Does your department expect midterm and final exams?
  • How are you evaluated on teaching? What importance is placed on peer observation of your teaching? On student evaluations? If senior faculty do observe your classes, who asks them to come? To whom do they report, and in what way? What resources are there for improving your teaching?
  • If a classroom problem arises you aren't sure how to handle, what are your options for seeking advice, help?
  • What documentation related to teaching should you keep? Syllabi? Exams? Abstracts?
  • How should you develop a teaching portfolio? What form should it take? What should it include?

Student Supervision

  • How important is your work with undergraduate and graduate students? How many should you expect to supervise? How many is too many? How much advising should you expect to do? How do you set limits on the amount of time/effort you invest in undergraduate and graduate students?
  • How do you identify "good" undergraduate and graduate students? What qualities should you look for? How aggressive should you be in recruiting them to work with you? What should you expect from your undergraduate and graduate students? How do you identify a problem undergraduate or graduate student?
  • How important is it to the department that you are a Ph.D. student advisor? On a Ph.D. student committee? A mentor for a professional school thesis? Mentor for an independent honors thesis? What are the qualifications to become a Ph.D. advisor?
  • What should you keep in files on your students? Remember that you have to write reviews and recommendations for them.
  • Should you hire postdoctoral associates? What are the advantages/disadvantages?
  • How are the pay scales set for the graduate students and doctoral students? Should you be involved in writing training grants?


  • How much committee work should you expect to perform within your department? School? University? At the beginning of your career at NYU? What committees should you push to serve on? Are there any you should avoid pre-tenure? How much time should you expect to devote to committees and other forms of service as a junior faculty member?
  • How important is professional service outside of the university? How much paper and proposal reviewing is reasonable? Review boards? Journal assistant editorships?
  • How do you weigh the prestige of organizing a national event in your field versus the time commitment?

Review Process

  • How long is your appointment? When will you come up for review? What sort of reviews? How is a third-year review, for example, different from the tenure review?
  • What is the process? (What do you submit for review? When? How do you hear the results? How are the reviewers selected? Do you have a role in that process?)
  • If you are responsible for submitting your own list of potential outside reviewers, how do you go about assembling such a list? What kind of reviewers should you try for? Are international and domestic reviewers regarded equally? How is the reviewer's own eminence evaluated? How much prior contact with a potential reviewer makes them unsuitable for your list? (Is having been on a panel together acceptable, but not a professional friendship?)
  • What information is important in your vita? Is there any activity too trivial to include?
  • Should you send copies of congratulatory letters to your department chair, or simply retain them for your docket?
  • How are raises determined in your department? School? How will you find out about your raise? What's the process for discussing your raise in a given year?
  • How can you get feedback on how you're doing at any point in your pre-tenure career?

Personal Issues

  • What policies does NYU have for family and personal leave? How do you go about asking for such leave? Do you begin at the department level? Is there an appeals process if your request is turned down?
  • What programs/assistance does the university provide for childcare?
  • How visible must one be in the department? Is it expected that you'll show your face every day? Is it acceptable to work at home?
  • What problems does the university's employee assistance program (Career Counseling Associates) deal with?
  • What are the university's sexual harassment policies?
  • If you're involved in a controversy or dispute, where do you go for help?
  • http://academicaffairs.ucsd.edu/faculty/programs/fmp/default.htm