Faculty Mentoring and Retention

Faculty Retention

Faculty Mentoring

Faculty Mentoring within Academic Departments at NC State

This section provides brief descriptions of the faculty mentoring programs in a few departments at NC State. The intent is to provide examples of different types of mentoring programs and to spark ideas for developing or refining your own department’s program for mentoring faculty. If your department has a program that you think works well, please share the information by sending it to Marcia Gumpertz.

Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering Faculty Mentoring Plan: Approved 05/06/14

Each member of the department should strive to create a supportive and collegial atmosphere that promotes both the success of the department as a whole and the success of individual faculty. This includes continuing informal interactions as well as a more formal mentoring process. The latter is especially important for new and junior faculty who may be unfamiliar with expectations, processes and opportunities both inside and outside of the university. Described in this document is a process that is intended to formalize that mentoring of new and junior faculty, as well as senior faculty for whom this plan may be useful. This is not intended to replace, or otherwise discourage, informal interactions between faculty, which are and have been critical to our departmental success.

Structure of mentoring team

  • Upon joining the faculty, each assistant and associate professor will be assigned a mentoring team composed of two or three departmental faculty. The makeup of the team may change at the request of the mentee.
  • The department head will consult with the faculty member to designate the mentoring team.
  • The mentoring team will be composed of a senior faculty member who will help to advocate for the mentee to the department, college and university, a faculty member of the same rank who has been a member of the department for at least one year, and possibly an associate or full professor in the same general field of research of the mentee.

Meetings structure, content, and frequency

  • The mentoring team will meet with the faculty member sometime within the first three weeks of his or her first appointment, and will supplement information provided to the mentee from the department staff on procedures for processing grant proposals, writing grant budgets, ordering equipment and supplies, and planning travel.
  • After the initial meeting, the faculty member and the mentoring team will meet “formally” once per year in early spring when the mentee is compiling his/her Faculty Activity Report (FAR). In addition, informal discussions between members of the mentoring team and the faculty member are strongly encouraged throughout the year.
  • The mentored faculty member and the mentors are expected to schedule informal meetings, in addition to informal discussions. The responsibility to ensure such interactions is equally shared between the mentors and the mentored faculty. The mentored faculty is also strongly encouraged to solicit advice from the mentors throughout the year as needed.
  • The mentored faculty member will work with the mentoring team throughout the year, including providing drafts of proposals to the mentor several weeks before submission dues dates so that mentor(s) can provide constructive comments. The mentors are expected to respond in a timely fashion so the mentored faculty can incorporate the suggestions effectively.

Objectives for the mentoring team

  • The mentoring team will work with the faculty member to develop strategies for submitting winning research proposals and award nominations, including how to approach program monitors and how to develop effective white papers. The team will also review teaching evaluations and help develop strategies to overcome any teaching deficiencies, and recommend ways in which the faculty member can enhance their professional standing.
  • The mentors will also offer advice and support with respect to balancing professional and personal life as requested by the faculty member.
  • Mentors will advocate for the faculty member to the department, college, university, funding agencies and professional societies as needed. This includes recommending the mentored faculty member for external panels and reviews.
  • In coordination with the department head, the mentoring team will be responsible for working with the faculty member to resolve any deficiencies prior to his or her reappointment, tenure or promotion.

Soil Science

 Soil Science: Mentoring committees in Soil Science address issues important in the RPT process for Assistant and Associate Professors, and identify any weaknesses in the Department’s support structure for these faculty. Mentoring teams are assigned by the department head and consist of three senior faculty members for each Assistant Professor. The team members have a vested interest in the programs and success of that faculty member, and the team works as her/his advocate for success within the department. A mentoring team meets with the faculty member at least twice per year, team members are available to the junior faculty for consultation, and they help ensure that any concerns from other departmental faculty are addressed.

Forestry and Environmental Resources

 Forestry and Environmental Resources: This is a large department encompassing a wide variety of disciplines. The department has thus developed a mentoring program in which the faculty member, in consultation with the department head, chooses his or her own mentoring committee. A large part of the responsibility for establishing and meeting with the mentoring committee thus falls on the faculty member being mentored. At a minimum, the mentoring committee reviews and critiques the Statement of Mutual Expectations, thus making sure that the expectations of the junior faculty member, members of the departmental faculty, and the department head are all in alignment. If a relationship develops between the junior faculty member and members of the mentoring committee, the benefits may be much larger.


 History: The History Department has a policy of voluntary group mentoring. Under this system, assistant professors meet for coffee or lunch twice a semester to discuss a predetermined topic, i.e. grant writing, graduate advising, publishing, balancing work and family, the tenure process.  The assistant professors invite two or three senior faculty to join them for a conversation on a given topic based on their sense of who can offer the best advice.  This system allows junior faculty to meet and learn from an assortment of senior faculty, contributes to the overall intellectual life of the department, and encourages individual relationships to develop.

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