Oregon State University


OSU College of Liberal Arts


Mentoring can be defined as the process of one person supporting, teaching, guiding and serving as the model for another person (Buell, 2004). Mentoring can also be described as the process by which a person, usually of higher rank or outstanding achievement, guides the development of another person who may be new to a place of work or field. Although the concept of mentoring has been in place for many years, the idea of faculty mentoring in colleges and universities has only recently begun to be considered as an important strategy for new faculty hires. In this context, mentoring should be used to exchange ideas, strengthen departmental relationships, enhance productivity, and integrate new faculty into the University community (Savage, Karp, and Logue, 2004).

This is a voluntary mentoring program consisting of two levels of mentoring: 1) informational mentoring provided by the college/division, and 2) career mentoring provided by the unit in order to facilitate success. In addition, leadership development is proposed for new faculty who have successfully integrated into their positions at OSU. This structure can be further developed and applied to faculty seeking promotion from Associate to Full Professor and/or leadership opportunities at OSU.

Mentoring: College Level

The purpose of providing mentoring support at the college/division level is to offer new faculty information and resources in understanding the structure and culture of OSU.


  • Maintain a resource website of important university-wide information (e.g., student support services, human resources information, important dates and events).
  • Share core values of the division/college.
  • Oversee that unit-level mentoring programs are effective and provide support where needed.
  • Provide necessary information regarding the P&T process.
  • Provide workshops around significant themes related to division/college mission (e.g., student engagement, scholarship & grants, technology, global learning, signature areas).


  • Two orientations (Fall and Spring) to provide overview and resources.
  • Fall Dean’s reception for social networking and introductions.
  • New Faculty Luncheons organized around a thematic agenda that introduces other campus units and resources to new faculty.
  • Workshops during the year open to all faculty (both new and current) regarding significant themes.
  • Training session for Directors on best practices for effective faculty mentoring.
  • Training session for Mentors on best practices for effective faculty mentoring.
  • Leadership development training provided as appropriate for faculty successfully approaching tenure, and mid-career faculty.


  • Evaluate existing program using participant end of year survey data.
  • Directors to provide position descriptions and mentoring plans for new faculty by the end of the first year (this may also be requested for current faculty as appropriate).
  • Directors will provide intensive third-year review report for new faculty, and identify at-risk faculty (both new and current), so that an individual mentoring program can be designed as appropriate.
  • Mentoring will be included as part of the Directors’ annual reports to the Dean.

Mentoring: Unit Level

The following is a recommendation for unit level mentoring. Each unit should have the flexibility necessary to shape the mentoring plan according to specific needs and expectations. The general purpose of mentoring at the unit level is to provide constructive feedback in the spirit of facilitating success. What follows is based on basic principles of effective mentoring programs nationwide.

This is a voluntary mentoring plan through which experienced faculty knowledgeable about the campus and academic life are matched with new faculty to orient them to OSU and their position expectations, inform them about campus support services, and assist them in the early stages of their academic careers at OSU.  This program is not meant to be a substitute for existing campus-wide resources and programs, but can be a supplement to those programs. 

Goals of the Mentoring Program 

Help new faculty members to:

  • Learn about OSU, the surrounding community, and support resources for faculty.
  • Quickly adjust to the new environment and become active members of the university.
  • Address questions, concerns, and special needs in a confidential manner.
  • Gain insight about teaching, scholarship and career development from an experienced faculty member.
  • Network with other faculty and develop a personal support system within OSU.

Encourage experienced faculty to:

  • Share their knowledge and experience with new faculty and gain professional growth through the exchange of ideas.
  • Assist new faculty to adjust quickly to the campus and address their unique needs, concerns, or questions, if any.
  • Provide a valuable service to the university by promoting collegiality through mentoring.
  • Contribute to teaching, research and scholarly activities, and to OSU’s service mission.

Suggested Mentoring Activities

Mentors and new faculty are encouraged to meet face-to-face frequently during the first two years and keep in touch frequently through phone or email. Suggested mentoring activities are:

  • Discuss short-term and long-term career goals and professional interests (e.g., do a “needs” assessment of the mentee).
  • Attend the programs offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning, Research Office or other campus units.
  • Perform peer teaching observations of the mentee.
  • Share information on academic and student support services on campus.
  • Discuss effective instructional techniques, course development and curricular issues.
  • Explore scholarship and sponsored funding opportunities, and writing publications.
  • Discuss academic policies and guidelines, and university governance structure.
  • Discuss student issues such as advising, motivating, and preventing academic dishonesty.
  • Share experiences on stress management, life/work balance, and effectively managing time.
  • Discuss preparing for tenure and promotion and career advancement (e.g., go over P&T dossier format).
  • Explore professional development opportunities available to new faculty

Matching Mentors with New Faculty

Directors of units will match mentees with mentors and request a copy of the annual mentoring plan as appropriate.

As the research on successful mentoring has suggested, mentors assigned are generally of the same gender as the new faculty. However, mentors of particular gender, race, ethnicity, or background should be considered for multicultural development or other professional development reasons.

Upon completion of an Assistant Professor’s intensive third year review, the mentoring structure can be revisited and adjusted as needed and as appropriate for the remaining 2-3 years .

Directors will check in with the mentee once per year to review the position description, the mentoring plan, and make adjustments as appropriate.

Duration of the Mentoring Process

The mentoring relationship between a mentor and a new faculty requires no set duration. It is recommended that mentors and new faculty interact regularly during the first two years. At the end of the second year they can decide if it is necessary to continue the mentoring relationship at the same pace, or on an as needed basis, or conclude it if individual goals have been met by the intensive third year review.

At any point during the mentoring process, if a mentor or new faculty feels that the relationship is not productive, the unit Director should be informed so that a different mentor or new faculty can be assigned.

Mentors and new faculty should provide feedback on the progress of their interactions at the end of each year so that the Director can evaluate the program and improvements can be made.

Roles and Responsibilities of Mentors

Successful mentors are committed, influential and experienced faculty members that are familiar with the university system. They are recognized as good teachers and scholars in their field. Mentors are interested in and committed to the growth and development of their mentee(s), are willing to commit time and attention to their mentees, can and do give honest feedback, and are willing to act on behalf of the mentee to provide connections and direction on questions that come up.  Mentors are not expected to listen to grievances and frustrations nor are they expected to be on call or become an instant friend to the mentee.  These relationships take time and will strengthen over time if both are committed to the effort and a good fit is established at the beginning of the process.

The mentor should provide informal advice to the new faculty member on aspects of teaching, research and committee work or be able to direct the new faculty member to other appropriate individuals. Often the greatest assistance a mentor can provide is simply the identification of which staff he or she should approach for which task. The mentor should treat all interactions and discussions in confidence. There is no evaluation or assessment of the new faculty member on the part of the mentor, only supportive guidance and constructive feedback. If a match does not work out for either party there should be an understanding of a no fault approach to terminating the relationship. It is important to note that mentoring is a skill and tenure status does not necessarily equate to good mentoring skills.

Mentors are responsible for:

  • Taking the initiative for contacting their mentees and staying in touch with them.
  • Devoting time to the relationship and being available when requested.
  • Assisting new faculty with their various questions, needs, or concerns.
  • Sharing their knowledge and experience to benefit their new faculty and keeping track of their progress at OSU.
  • Maintaining confidentiality of the information shared by their new faculty colleagues.

Roles and Responsibilities of New Faculty

New Faculty can take on various roles such as friend, protégé, new colleague, or collaborator depending on their needs, academic experience, and the nature of their mentoring relationship.

Mentees are responsible for:

  • Devoting the time to the mentoring relationship and regularly interacting with the mentor.
  • Making use of the opportunities provided by the mentor.
  • Keeping the mentor informed of academic progress, difficulties, and concerns.
  • Exchanging ideas and experiences with the mentor.

Both the mentors and new faculty colleagues have the responsibility for gaining each other's trust and confidence, interacting in a collegial manner so as to value each other's time and professional and personal commitments, and engaging in activities that support the mission and strategic goals of OSU.

The 10 Commandments of Mentoring 1

  1. Don't be afraid to be a mentor. Many mentors underestimate the amount of knowledge that they have about the academic system or their organization, the contacts they have, and the avenues they can use to help someone else. A faculty member does not have to be at the absolute top of his or her profession or discipline to be a mentor. Teaching assistants can mentor other graduate students, graduate students can mentor undergraduates, and undergraduate majors can help those beginning the major.
  2. Remember you don't have to demonstrate every possible faculty role to be an effective mentor, but let your new faculty colleagues know where you are willing to help and what kind of information or support you can give that you believe will be particularly helpful. Be clear about whether you are willing to advise on personal issues, such as suggestions about how to balance family and career responsibilities.
  3. Clarify expectations about how much time and guidance you are prepared to offer.
  4. Let new faculty know if they are asking for too much or too little of your time.
  5. Be sure to give criticism, as well as praise, when warranted, but present it with specific suggestions for improvement. Do it in a private and non-threatening context. Giving criticism in the form of a question can be helpful, as in "What other strategy might you have used to increase student participation?"
  6. Where appropriate, "talk up" your new faculty accomplishments to others in your department and institution, as well as at conferences and other meetings.
  7. Include new faculty in informal activities whenever possible - lunch, discussions following meetings or lectures, dinners during academic conferences.
  8. Teach new faculty how to seek other career help whenever possible, such as funds to attend workshops or release time for special projects.
  9. Work within your institution to develop formal and informal mentoring programs and encourage social networks.
  10. Be willing to provide support for people different from yourself.

1 Taken from: Sandler, B. 1993. Women as Mentors: Myths and Commandments. Chronicle of Higher Education. March 10, 1993.

Best Practices

  • Structured mentoring efforts, where established and successful faculty members are assigned to new faculty and have established guidelines and expectations, are most effective.
  • Units should spend time exploring and customizing mentoring programs that are best suited for their particular program culture and field.
  • Inter-disciplinary faculty mentoring should be explored whenever feasible and appropriate.
  • To maximize the effectiveness of a faculty mentoring program, unit heads should check-in periodically with the mentoring that is being given.
  • Establish mechanisms that recognize and reward mentoring efforts.


Arizona State University. Faculty development.

Buell, C. (2004). Models of mentoring in communication. Communication Education, 53, 56-73.

Indiana University. Mentoring policy curriculum & instruction.

Kansas State University. Mentoring policy.

Oregon State University, WAGE Mentoring Tool-kit.

Purdue University. Teaching Academy: The Faculty Mentoring Network.

Sandler, B. 1993. Women as Mentors: Myths and Commandments. Chronicle of Higher Education. March 10, 1993.

Savage, H.E., Karp, R.S., & Logue, R. (2004). Faculty mentorship at colleges and universities. College Teaching, 52, 21-24.

University of Illinois. Junior Faculty Mentoring Program.

University of Minnesota. Faculty Mentoring Program.

University of Washington. Mentoring.

University of Michigan. (2004) Report of the faculty mentoring study: The Provost’s advisory committee on mentoring and community building.

UC San Diego. Faculty development programs.

University of Wisconsin. Provost initiative on mentoring for women.

Click here for a pdf copy of this information

Contact Info

Copyright ©  2017 Oregon State University