Frequently Asked Questions about Mentoring
Q: I have heard about mentoring opportunities in both my department and with this program. Should I have more than one mentor?
A: It depends on the individual faculty member’s needs. The Auburn University Faculty Mentoring Program is not designed to replace existing mentoring programs among the departments/colleges, but rather to support departmental mentoring. Junior faculty can benefit from having multiple mentors, such as a primary departmental advisor to assist overall career guidance and support; and other mentors outside of the department to assist with scholarly work such as research and grant writing, or even personal matters such as balancing work and family.
Q: I am interested in mentoring a junior faculty member, but have no training. What should I do?
A: The first step in becoming a mentor is to indicate your interest by contacting Dr. Donna Sollie. You will be provided with a questionnaire that asks what areas are of interest to you, how much time you are able to commit, etc. Once the questionnaire is completed, you may be matched with a junior faculty member who has been at Auburn for three or less years.
You don’t have to be formally trained to become a mentor. Auburn’s Faculty Mentoring Program provides opportunities for training including individual and group meetings, information on different approaches to mentoring, suggested mentoring activities and on-campus opportunities to interact and share with other mentors. Common questions/issues faculty mentors should be prepared to respond to include academic policies, teaching, promotion and tenure and general campus resources.
Q: What if I sign up for the Mentoring Program and don’t like my mentor?
A: Choosing the right faculty mentors is essential to a successful mentoring program. Mentors and mentees are matched based on shared interests. The primary goal of the program is to enable the needs of both mentors and mentees to be met so that junior faculty members will later become mentors and carry the process full circle. If a match is not successful, the junior faculty member may be paired with a different mentor. Participation in the program is completely voluntary, and faculty may terminate their involvement at any time.
Q: I’ve been a senior faculty member for a long time and have mentored several junior faculty in my department. What is the benefit of participating in this program over my home department?
A: Auburn’s Faculty Mentoring Program is not designed to compete with any existing department program. Our hope is that all faculty will want to become involved in mentoring at some level, whether it be at the department, college or university level.
Studies indicate that faculty who mentor benefit by achieving a greater sense of accomplishment in helping a fellow colleague. Junior faculty who are mentored benefit by learning from a more experienced educator. The ultimate goal is the sharing of ideas and encouragement.
Q: If I become a mentor, what am I agreeing to do?
A: As a mentor, your level of involvement should be what you and your mentee are most comfortable with. However, below is a list of basic expectations you are agreeing to when you become a mentor:
- Complete the mentor expectations worksheet.
- Initiate contact with your mentee and set up a first meeting.
- Share information about your own background with your mentee; sharing CVs is a good introductory activity.
- Meet regularly with your mentee: we suggest once a month.
- Know how to access University policies on tenure and promotion and work/family balance (see the Faculty Handbook, Chapter 3).
- Share your experiences as a member of the Auburn Faculty.
- Respond as quickly as you can to emails, phone calls, requests from your mentee.
- Communicate with your mentee to assess whether or not the mentoring match is working. If it isn’t working, gently suggest that s/he request a different mentor.
- Make referrals and/or gather resources to respond to questions you can’t answer. Feel free to consult with a Faculty Mentoring Program administrator (Dr. Donna Sollie).
- Help to evaluate the Auburn Faculty Mentoring Program at the end of the academic year by providing feedback.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Dr. Donna Sollie.