Mentoring Program to Open Doors for Junior Faculty

March 5, 2009

A new program aims to connect junior faculty members with their more senior counterparts and provide tools and tips for navigating the career ladder at UT Dallas. 

The Faculty Mentoring Program provides a support system to help junior faculty develop and succeed, both professionally and personally.  UT Dallas tenure-track faculty members were invited to participate, and 24 junior faculty applied and were accepted, including 14 men and 10 women. 

The program includes three key features:

  • Mentees develop their own mentoring “teams,” including senior and peer mentors inside and outside UT Dallas.  Different mentors serve different roles, including providing research guidance, offering feedback on manuscripts and grant applications, providing department-specific guidance and offering social support.
  • Mentees participate in workshops on such topics as research and publication, grants, teaching, the tenure hurdle, writing, work/life balance, networking, and having difficult conversations.  UT Dallas faculty members lead the workshops.
  • A Web site includes a message board, tips and information for both mentees and mentors.

“We hope this program will improve recruitment and retention of faculty and enhance the academic climate at the University,” said Dr. Rachel Croson, chair of the Committee on Faculty Mentoring and a professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the School of Management

“The philosophy behind the program’s design is that one mentor can’t provide all the guidance an individual needs,” Croson said. “Therefore, a customized team of mentors is constructed from experts in the participant’s field, both internal and external to UT Dallas.  Participants then have the opportunity to invite external mentors to campus once during the year, to give a research talk but also to interact on a more informal and personal basis.”

Dr. Robert Morris
Dr. Robert G. Morris

Dr. Robert G. Morris, an assistant professor of criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and a mentee in the program, said he felt the benefits of joining a formal support program would bolster his career.

“Mentoring is critical for junior faculty development, and formal support for developing relationships is hard to come by,” Morris said.  “I enrolled immediately and have already developed new associations with scholars outside of UT Dallas.  I think the connections I’m making will go a long way in helping me develop as a scholar and as a professor.”

Morris’ mentor, Dr. Travis C. Pratt, an associate professor of criminology at Arizona State University, said the program is a unique opportunity for junior faculty to become entrenched in their disciplines.

“Engaging in the mentoring process isn’t merely about learning how to navigate the nuts and bolts of developing research ideas or working to see them eventually appear in print — although these are certainly important components of UT Dallas’ program,” Pratt said. 

“It’s also about forging the professional connections and social relationships that are critical to the success of an academic career, particularly for young faculty.  I wish these kinds of resources had been available to me at the beginning of my career,” he said.


Media Contact:  Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Dr. Rachel Croson

“The philosophy behind the program’s design is that one mentor can’t provide all the guidance an individual needs.”

— Dr. Rachel Croson, Committee on Faculty Mentoring


Faculty Mentoring
Steering Committee

A steering committee is developing the Faculty Mentoring Program. Members include:

  • Dr. Rhonda Blackburn — associate provost, Office of Educational Enhancement.
  • Dr. Rachel Croson — professor of economics, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; professor of organizations, Strategy and International Management, School of Management.
  • Lauren DeCillis — director, Galerstein Women’s Center.
  • Dr. David Ford — professor of organizations, strategy and international management, School of Management.
  • Dr. Shaun Longstreet — coordinator of educational enhancement, Office of Educational Enhancement.
  • Dr. Christine Salmon — coordinator of educational enhancement, Office of Educational Enhancement.
  • Dr. Magaly Spector — vice president, Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.
  • Dr. Emily Tobey — Nelle C. Johnston Chair in Communication Disorders, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Core partners of the Faculty Mentoring Program include the Faculty Senate Committee on Faculty Mentoring, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Galerstein Women’s Center and the Office of Educational Enhancement.

The program will undergo a yearlong trial, from January 2009 to January 2010, and will continue in subsequent years based on interest, participation and the evaluations of the participants.  Further details are available by contacting Croson.

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