Principles and Best Practices¹

The interests of departments, schools, the campus, and faculty are best served when the people we hire are constructively mentored and reviewed.  Constructive mentoring and reviewing of tenure-track faculty works to help faculty meet high standards of rigor, depth and innovation in scholarship, and to realize their full potential as scholars, teachers, and members of the academic community.  When we grant a faculty member tenure, we acknowledge the high contributions that person is making to our scholarly and learning community; we also acknowledge the institution's wise choice in hiring and enabling mentoring of the new faculty member. Given all that is at stake, both personally for the candidate and institutionally, in hiring and tenure, the mentoring and reviewing of tenure-track faculty is some of the most important work we do.


  1. It is the responsibility of departments and schools in which faculty hold tenure-track appointments to mentor those faculty in ways that help them to reach their full potential in teaching, research and service.  Mentoring is important for faculty at all stages of their careers, pre-tenure and post tenure.
  2. Mentoring of faculty is a responsibility of all tenure-track faculty members, and a particular responsibility of the chair/dean either personally, or through his or her designee.
  3. Mentoring is both a formal and an informal activity.  It is about internal expectations for teaching, research and service, as well as about external measures of success such as publications and awards.

Best Practices for Faculty Mentoring

  1. As soon as a candidate accepts a position, the chair/dean should work with his/her colleagues to 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, graduate supervision, research and service obligations.  The plan should be predicated on being helpful rather than authoritarian. This mentoring plan may include participation by several members of the department/school, as well as external faculty as appropriate.
  2. Departments/schools should work to develop a "climate of mentoring" in which all members of the department/school spontaneously and informally mentor their new colleagues. Collegial conversations about the intellectual concerns of the department/school are one of the best modes of informal mentoring.
  3. Departments/schools should take care to ensure that there are departmental/program events, such as colloquia and seminars, which include new faculty as both audience and presenters, make them welcome as members of the community, and serve as modes of informal mentoring.
  4. Chairs/deans 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. This work should be given full credit.
  5. Tenure-track appointees should have the opportunity to review formally with their chair/dean at least once a year their teaching, research and service in relation to their progress towards tenure. These reviews should be constructive and diagnostic. They should address areas of strength and areas for improvement in the faculty member's teaching, research and service and should make suggestions about goals and strategies for improvement.
  6. Chairs/deans should conduct reviews of tenure-track appointees' work in a friendly and constructive spirit. The aim of these reviews is to communicate clearly the requirements for tenure, and to help candidates meet those requirements; it is not to intimidate candidates.
  7. Chairs/deans should recognize that some candidates may in some contexts (e.g., women or minorities in departments/schools where they are under-represented) face special challenges in receiving the kinds of informal mentoring that both help their careers and make them feel comfortable in the department/school. In such instances, the chair/dean may wish to seek mentoring resources available on campus outside the department such as the Senate Committee on the Status of Women and Ethnic Minorities (SWEM) or the Association of Academic Women (AAW).  Departments should pay particular attention to ensure that faculty behavior in both formal and informal settings is fully and respectfully inclusive of such candidates and of the scholarly interests for which they were hired.
  8. All faculty should conduct themselves, in both formal and informal settings, in ways that mentor by example. We should not be mentoring anyone in our community, be they students or new faculty, in old strifes, uncivil debate, or personal arguments.
  9. Where tenure-track faculty hold joint appointments, the chairs/deans of their units should review each year their respective requirements of the candidate to ensure that they are consistent with the expectations placed on faculty without joint appointments. Particular attention should be paid to teaching and service requirements to make sure that candidates are not doing "double duty" in, for example, teaching large introductory lectures or holding demanding committee assignments in both departments.
  10. Irrespective of whether tenure-track faculty hold single or joint appointments, their chairs/deans should review their work assignments carefully to ensure that they are not being unduly burdened by an excessive number of new course preparations, large classes, or demanding service assignments.
  11. Service assignments to tenure-track faculty should serve as mentoring contexts in which the faculty learns about the values and operations of the University.
  12. One is not born a mentor but learns to become a mentor. Faculty mentors in a department/school should meet regularly, to discuss problems and strategies around mentoring and to share their knowledge.

¹ Adapted from the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A)Junior Faculty Mentoring and Third-Year Reviews: Principles and Best Practices: A report to chairs, directors, and faculty from Dean Shirley Neuman, June 18, 2001