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Mentorship

A Definition of Mentorship

A definition: two (sometimes more) faculty colleagues working together to help create an atmosphere for good conversation about being incorporated into an educational community, with emphasis on teaching,research, and professional service. This formal relationship between the new faculty member and the chair/mentor is required for the first and second years at Creighton. The departmental chair is responsible for ensuring that the new faculty member has a suitable mentor at least for the first two years of employment. Mentors are selected and appointed only after consultation with the faculty member's departmental chair.

A few ideas about the mentoring relationship (primarily for the new faculty member but also useful for the mentor):

1. Get to know the appointed mentor. Don't be afraid of the relationship.
2. Do not expect that the mentor will fulfill all expectations. There are some functions of the relationship that may be better satisfied by another person.
3. Seek advice and guidance on teaching, scholarship and on professional service. In the area of teaching, it will be helpful to share syllabi, texts, tests, approaches to the particular classes, pedagogical techniques. It may be helpful to visit the mentor's classes. In the area of scholarship, it will be helpful to share current projects for the mentor's criticism, suggestions, thoughts about their presentation and publication. In the area of professional service, it will be helpful to talk about ways in which the faculty member would comfortably share professional expertise with the variety of on-eampus constituencies and share desires for committee work.
4. The faculty member and mentor should clarify expectations about how much time and guidance both are prepared to share.
5. Expect and receive criticism, as well as praise, when warranted, but the memor should pay special attention to offering specific suggestions for improvement.
6. Let one another know if too much or too little time is being asked for.
7. Where appropriate, "'talk-up" what you are doing in the mentoring relationship with others in the department and College.
8. Include one another in informal activities whenever possible-lunch, discussions following meetings or lectures, etc.
9. Ask about other career help whenever possible, such as faculty development travel grants and other professional activities. Information is available in this faculty handbook and from your departmental chair.
10. Work together with the College to develop an effective mentoring program and appropriate social networks as well. Work to insure that accurate information is available on faculty growth and development.
11. Learn to feel comfortable with the relationship even if not entirely compatible. If the relationship is not succeeding, seek another mentor.

Some things to do, especially in the first year:

1. Make a visit to Human Resources as soon as possible after arrival on campus to take care of a fringe benefits package and to obtain an ID card (which also serves as a library borrowing card).
2. Attend the new faculty/staff Orientation Program, with the mentor, which is hosted by Human Resources.
3. Attend the President's New Faculty Welcome, which is a university-wide opportunity for introductions followed by a reception.
4. Attend the College Dean's New Faculty Welcome, which is a College-wide opportunity for introductions followed by a reception.
5. Attend the College's day-long academic orientation program with the mentor.
6. Attend the Vice President for Academic Affairs' Fall Convocation for faculty and staff in his area.
7. Obtain and read the useful manual by C. Schoenfeld and R. Magnan, Mentor in a Manual (Magna Publications, 1992), available from the departmental chair. Become very familiar with the Student Evaluation form, the Annual Report form, and the Rank and Tenure Guidelines for the University, College, and department.
8. Review the College and departmental rank and tenure guidelines with the mentor and chair.
9. Visit with the departmental chair each year during the probationary period and each year after tenure to discuss the overall year's performance as reflected in the Annual Review (and any supporting documents).
10. Visit briefly with the College Dean at the beginning of the second year of the probationary period to discuss faculty development, progress towards tenure and rank, problems, and concerns. A second meeting with the Dean occurs after the third year.

Reflection on Mentoring

Mentors are accomplished in their own right, they are successful at what they do. They do it well; that does not mean that they do it effortlessly, even if it might look that way. Look at a faculty mentor as someone you might emulate, both in educational savvy and in operating style. Be sure the person is someone you trust enough to talk about touchy issues.

Good mentors do not just give quick answers to questions, but help faculty think through problems. Look for someone who will share failures as was as successes. Some of the most important things good mentors can teach are how they have recovered from their own setbacks and failures. Although mentors are helpful for most people at some time in their
early academic careers, a faculty member can succeed without a mentor. Mentoring is not beneficial unless it takes the shape of an inclusive social network. The menlor need not be a senior faculty member, nor from the faculty member's department. A person may need several mentors at the same time. Different kinds of people have different things to teach. Although a mentor will be assigned by your departmental chair for the initial two years of your time at Creighton, you may want to choose your own mentor after that period.

Finally, the mentor does not always know best. oor should he or she be held ultimately responsible for the relationship, the information shared, and the counsel given. Mentoring is a chance to offer "advice, protection, caring."

Some of the above is based on random comments of Joseph Veale. S.l., Studiu in the Spirituality of Jesuits. 28n.

The Mentoring Conversation

The purpose of the mentoring conversation is the personal and professional development of the faculty member, in a phrase, a satisfied,productive, and effective teacher/scholar.

Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the inspiration behind Jesuit education, sets out in his Constitutions what is required "if one is to educate others well." He bid would-be educators to cultivate diligently all those human resources which will make them useful, that is, which will make them more effective. Of course, he did not think that style or cultivation of learning would alone make a teacher achieve the goals of education. But they could, in ordinary ways, make a teacher more effective.

Education for Ignatius was education for a way of life, a life which included a career but which was much more than that. Conscquently,education involved not only intellectual knowledge and skills, but also moral virtues and attention to societal matters. Put simply, it involved the students'character; not merely carefully reasoned investigation, but also developmemt of habitual attitudes towards the world.

This meant that educational institutions aimed at a trans- formation of the way students look at things, and a consequent transformation of their ways of acting. Ignatius held that good example, engendered by the students' personal contact with competent and honorable individuals, is the principle means for the transformation of character that leads to the practice of moral virtues.

The mentoring conversation is an ongoing dialogue between peers about these things. Mutual engagement ensures a productive exchange. Good conversations do not happen once, they continue. Through stops and starts and interruptions, good conversation changes and matures as individualssystematically engage common concerns and insights. Talk: about success as well as problems, concerns, and challenges. Make sure the faculty member knows what hislher strengths and challenges are. and what your concerns may be. as far as expectations in the calegories of teaching and scholarship and service; and what is recommended to improve or shift priorities.

Conversation lets us move with a certain ease from one train of thought 10 another. We are not under constraint to present a structured argument, necessarily. Conversation invites a kind of musing on things; ideas flow, as it were, in and· out of each other. They interweave and surprise us hy what they remind us of or recall. They may take off in unplanned directions. Conversation is allowed to meander or 10 retrace its steps. It inviles us to go back on our tracks, to take up something we asserted before and too look on il in a new light. Conversalion is comfortable with contradictions. It allows. and invites. a synthesizing cast of mind, happy to wait upon the process that brings into harmony diverse realities of our lived experience of our profession. Conversation encourages a dialectical manner of relating which is a congenial way for most to understand the world they live and work in-in this case, the world of Jesuit higher education and the place of the leacher/scholar in it.

As important as conversation itself is, it always takes its impetus from, and measures ilself against, the University Faculty Handbook and the institution's Rank and Tenure Guidelines (including those of the individual college and its depanmems). Minimum point goals have been set forth in the above-mentioned documents as guides in assisting in the preparation of a faculty member's progress toward and submission for rank and tenure consideration. However, in the final analysis, a faculty member's perfonnance progress will be judged on its merits and to the extent that it measures up to the standards of the appropriate rank as concretely set out by the College and its respective departments.

Some of the above is based on random comments of Joseph Veale. S.J., Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits. 28/2 March 1996). A useful manual for reviewing teaching/scholarship/service performance is Roben Diamond, Preparing for Promotion and Tenure Review: A Faculty Guide, which is available in departments.

The above draws on the pioneering work of Professor Mary Boys, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, who is also a project advisor to the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith.