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After examining the practices in all 12 schools, the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity and Equity, chaired by Professor Sherrill Adams, issued a report on faculty mentoring. The Office of the Provost, in close consultation with the Council of Deans and the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, developed the following guidelines to help shape practices in this area. We wish to thank the members of the Committee and the Faculty Senate for their careful analysis and thoughtful recommendations.

Amy Gutmann, President
—Ronald Daniels, Provost

Mentoring Guidelines for Junior Faculty

Recently, the Faculty Senate Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity and Equity completed a comprehensive report on mentoring practices at Penn. We commend the Faculty Senate for its excellent report, which highlights the importance of mentoring and identifies areas where Penn can improve.

In responding to the Faculty Senate report, we recognize and reiterate the University’s commitment to the mentorship of junior colleagues. The development of a formal mentoring program in each school is essential to the University’s future because it helps to ensure that every new junior faculty member will have access to constructive support and guidance from senior colleagues. This support will allow colleagues to realize their own, as well as the University’s, highest aspirations in research, teaching and service.

In developing these guidelines for mentorship, we eschew any notion that there is one standard model for mentorship across the university. Rather, these guidelines are designed to promote the development of distinctive programs that are tailored to the circumstances, traditions and values of individual departments and schools and are attentive to mentoring across differences (e.g., gender, race, culture, and generational lines). To ensure that every junior faculty member has the opportunity to avail him or herself of mentorship, every school should develop a formal statement that describes the elements of its mentorship program and should make this statement available to each newly appointed colleague at the time of their appointment. Doing so will ensure that colleagues will know what mentorship support they can expect once they commence their employment with the University.

While we seek to support junior faculty colleagues through the formal mechanism of an assigned mentor, we recognize that the department chair (or in smaller schools, the dean or associate dean) retains the responsibility of reviewing the performance of each faculty member annually, and of providing candid feedback to the junior faculty member on his/her performance. We also recognize that the assigned mentor is not the only colleague from whom a junior faculty member should seek advice. Accordingly, we encourage junior faculty members to seek advice and support from colleagues within and outside the University. Ultimately, the individual junior faculty member is responsible for compiling a record of scholarship and teaching that merits promotion. In these guidelines, we aim simply to ensure that every junior faculty member is provided with advice and support from a senior colleague serving as the assigned mentor.

The school mentorship program should incorporate the following elements:

1. To ensure that the program receives ongoing oversight and support, each school should designate a senior faculty person (or persons) responsible for the management of the faculty mentorship program. The designated individual will be responsible for understanding the needs, interests and aspirations of individual faculty members and then seeking to identify an appropriate senior colleague to act as mentor. In smaller departments where there may not be an appropriate mentor, chairs or deans may need to consider seeking mentors external to the department for junior faculty members. In departments with a tradition of group mentorship, one senior faculty member should be assigned as the lead mentor to the junior faculty member.

2. The specific responsibilities and expectations of the mentor should be clearly stated in the school’s policy and such policy should be distributed to the junior faculty member along with the school’s promotion guidelines. The mentor should serve as a source of supportive guidance and constructive criticism to the junior faculty members. To be effective, the mentoring relationship must be built on a foundation of trust. Junior faculty members will be consulted regarding potential mentors.

3. To ensure that the mentorship relationship is meeting the expectations of both parties, the dean or the dean’s designate will confer annually with both mentor and junior faculty member to evaluate the relationship. When appropriate, a new mentor will be recruited for the junior faculty member at various stages of her or his career.

4. To ensure that the program is effective and responsive, each school should evaluate its mentoring program periodically to ensure that it is meeting its stated purpose. Periodically, the Provost’s office will consult with deans, chairs and colleagues to assess the effectiveness of a school’s mentoring program and to identify how the program might be strengthened.

It is important that mentorship service be recognized by the University. Accordingly, deans and department chairs will consider the mentorship contributions of senior faculty in annual performance evaluations. Further, faculty mentoring will be considered as one of the university citizenship criteria for promoting senior faculty from Associate Professor to Full Professor.  


  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 34, May 23, 2006


May 23, 2006
Volume 52 Number 34


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