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Tips for Mentors

Adapted from Rachel Thomas’ “Exemplary Junior Faculty Mentoring Programs”

  • Exchange CVs with your mentee to stimulate discussion about career paths and
  • Ask about and encourage accomplishments and provide constructive criticism, praise, and impromptu feedback
  • Use your knowledge and experience to help junior faculty members identify and build on their own strengths.
  • Attend mentoring events
  • Try to be in contact twice monthly to discuss the junior faculty member’s career and activities. Commit to making one contact per month with the entire mentoring team.
  • Discuss annual performance reviews with the junior faculty member: how to prepare, what to expect, how to deal with different outcomes. Preview the document before it is submitted to the chair.
  • Aid the junior faculty in exploring the institutional, school, and division culture (i.e., What is valued? What is rewarded?)
  • Check-in with the chair of the faculty mentoring program to share any concerns or problems. Respond to occasional calls from the chair of the program to see how the team is progressing.
  • Encourage and demonstrate University citizenship.
  • Tell junior faculty members about important university and professional events they should be attended. Invite and participate with the mentee in important university events.

Tips for Mentees

Adapted from Rachel Thomas’ “Exemplary Junior Faculty Mentoring Programs”

  • Show initiative in planning your career. Write a personal statement about your educational philosophy and amend it as needed. Exchange CVs with your mentor for discussion.
  • Learn about how the University and your field operates. Write down questions as they occur to you and then begin finding the answers.
  • Realize that your success is important not just to you but also to your division, the School and the University. Consider that “going it alone” doesn’t work that well for anyone.
  • Make your scheduled meetings with your mentor a priority, and take advantage of e-mail and the telephone to keep in touch informally.
  • Be willing to ask for help.
  • Let the director of the Campbell mentoring program know if you have questions or concerns about the program.
  • Begin assembling your advisory board of supporters and advisers (other than your mentoring team) in the University community.
  • Make and maintain contacts with other junior faculty within your division and the School, as well as in other divisions, departments, institutes, and schools.
  • Become familiar with the resources available to support and strengthen your teaching and research.
  • Assemble a library of information about your institution, school, and division. Include the latest strategic plan for the School of Pharmacy and your division.
  • Set a meeting with your chair to discuss the division’s expectations for tenure and promotion.
  • Read the mission and vision statements of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and divisions.

Suggested Topics of Discussion for the Mentoring Team

Adapted from Rachel Thomas’ “Exemplary Junior Faculty Mentoring Programs”

  • How is the junior faculty member’s division and committees organized? 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 division and by the School? Are there other resources available to cover expenses related to teaching and research?
  • 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 division’s/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?
  • 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 divisional 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 division assess shared cost for use of common equipment and its service contracts?
  • What do you see as your research “niche” in your division, in your area of research? What does your chair see your area of research contributing to the division, eventually to the School?
  • For clinicians, what is the expected level of clinical duty while trying to write and acquire external funding? Is clinical research funding equivalent to basic research funding?
  • Should you give presentations within your division? How often? How are colloquia in your division 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?
  • Is collaborative work encouraged or discouraged in your division/School/fields; with other members of your division; with international colleagues; with colleagues who are senior/more established; with other junior faculty/graduate students? If yes, are you encouraged to have 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 where 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? Are the classes at the graduate, undergraduate, seminar, lecture, practicum, recitation, special topic, service course level? 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, and specialized courses in your research area?
  • 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 division/School standards for grading? What degree of freedom do you have in determining course content? Does your division expect comprehensive final exams?
  • How are you evaluated on teaching? What importance is placed on peer observation of your teaching, and on student evaluations? If senior faculty observe your classes, who has asked 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, for example: syllabi, exams, and abstracts?
  • How should you develop a teaching portfolio? What form should it take? What should it include?
  • How important is your work with 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 graduate students?
  • How do you identify “good” 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 graduate students? How do you identify a research (scholarly) problem for your graduate student?
  • How important is it to the division that you are a PhD student adviser, and on PhD student committees? Is it important to be a mentor for a professional school thesis, or a mentor for an independent honors thesis? 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 division, School, UNC, and the state of North Carolina? At what stage in your career should service be given to these units? 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, in participating in review boards, or in journal assistant editorships?
  • How do you weigh the prestige of organizing a national event in your field versus the time commitment?
  • How long is your appointment? When will you come up for review? What sort of reviews? How is a fourth-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 when appropriate? Do you have a role in that process?)
  • What do you include in your annual report? How do assess the chair’s review? How do you discuss the annual review with your chair?
  • What are the standards for tenure and promotion?
  • 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 is an “arms-length” reviewer?
  • What information is important in your vita? Is there any activity too trivial to include? Should you send copies of congratulatory letters to your division chair, or simply retain them for your dossier? What should be included in your reflective teaching and research statements?
  • How are raises determined in the 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?
  • What policies does UNC-Chapel Hill have for family and personal leave? How do you go about asking for such leave? Do you begin at the division 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 division and School? Is it expected that you’ll show your face every day? Is it acceptable to work at home?
  • What problems does the UNC’s employee assistance program 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?