Mentoring Resources: Overview & Goals

Over the years, a variety of faculty mentoring models have been used in the architecture and urban planning departments at Taubman College. A survey of faculty mentoring experiences at the College was conducted in Fall 2020, revealing a wide spectrum of positive, ambivalent, and disappointing experiences. There is now an increased expectation for a more transparent, equitable, and consistent mentoring program that sets up all faculty for success by providing a strong, baseline level of support, regardless of background or prior professional network. This becomes particularly important in providing equitable support for minority and under-represented faculty members. A formalized and transparent mentoring program is not intended to replace any informal mentoring relationships, but rather ensure sufficient support is provided to all faculty, and remove any unnecessary difficulties or confusion for faculty to obtain the support and guidance that they need. It is expected that the program (and these living documents) will continue to evolve over time as program goals are reached and new ones are defined. In this first phase, tenure-track faculty have been identified as the most pressing faculty group for more formalized mentoring experiences. Subsequent phases will include support for practice-track faculty, mid-career faculty, lecturers, and senior faculty. 

Mentoring Program Approach

The variety of disciplinary tracks in the College means that the program cannot simply funnel mentees along a singular path, but must rather equip and enable mentees to understand and proactively seek the specific support that they need, to define their own path towards success. As such, it is important to understand the program as:

  • partnership of mentees, mentors, and College leadership all working together towards the mentees’ tenure and success
  • framework through which mentees can comfortably initiate, seek, and customize the support they require, with key checkpoints and moments of review along the way

Formalizing a program enables a consistent, base-level of support, which mentees can then build upon and expand their mentoring networks, regardless of the mentees’ background, or prior academic/professional community. 

Program Goals*

  1. Ensure each new faculty member has a point-person they can go to with questions 
  2. Better prepare candidates for the tenure/promotion process
    1. By providing regular feedback on progress 
    2. By increasing transparency and clarity about tenure and/or promotion standards and processes for tenure track faculty 
  3. Advise on career models and pathways to success
    1. Illustrate and foreground career types as exemplars for career self-modelling 
  4. Support any special needs and concerns of minority and under-represented faculty members 
  5. Produce group contexts for faculty of similar rank to share experiences, aspirations, and concerns regarding career progress 
  6. Promote improvement of research and writing skills and performance 
  7. Provide support for faculty members who may experience stress or conflict
  8. Advise on strategies and venues for peer-reviewed dissemination

Key Program Elements & Outcomes*

  1. Establish even knowledge of procedures and expectations for promotion and tenure 
    1. Co-create a roadmap that assists in shaping faculty activity and actions during the period of the tenure track 
    2. Mentors to help clarify College standards and expectations for tenure and promotion 
    3. Provide feedback on progress toward promotion 
    4. Provide coaching on time management, particularly constraining engagements that are not relevant for promotion or tenure 
  2. Formally match each mentee with a mentor or group of mentors 
  3. Support any special needs and concerns of minority and under-represented faculty members, either via unit mentoring or through additional resources 
  4. Support mentees in creating a multi-year career plan
    1. Help mentees set individual annual goals within the context of a larger plan.

*Specific and actionable program goals and key program elements were determined through a review of best practices and other peer US institution programs, Fall 2020 faculty survey, and a workshop with tenure-track mentees in December 2020. The results of the workshop can be seen here. The most important goals and elements identified in the workshop and best practices review have been listed. 

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