Professional Development in the English Department, Including
Policies for Mentoring Pre-Tenured Faculty
Faculty Development and Collegiality
- The aim of the English Department’s Faculty Development and
Mentoring Committee is to develop a harmonious, energetic, and
integrated vision of departmental collegiality and
professionalism. We want to create a stimulating and welcoming
atmosphere in which everyone feels encouraged to contribute.
- As part of this mission we propose the following definition of
collegiality: Collegiality is participation and presence in the
work and life of the department. Participation and presence
entail a willingness to shoulder the work of the department, to
interact constructively with colleagues, to fill in gaps as
needed, to perform formal and informal service, to do more than
the required minimum. Collegiality is desirable in junior and
senior faculty to help establish a positive working environment.
Collegiality should not be confused with likeability, nor does
cultivation of collegiality impose the pressure to conform to
any departmental ideology—it is not a form of
“groupthink.” Collegiality does not involve the suppression
of dissent. Expression of disagreement with colleagues is
encouraged within a framework of mutual respect. While
collegiality is not one of the primary areas of consideration
for reappointment, tenure, and promotion, its clear absence will
and should affect faculty members’ assessment of an
individual’s performance in teaching, research, and service.
- To foster faculty development and collegiality, we propose an
integrated array of activities involving twice-monthly
gatherings in which interested junior and senior faculty can
- At some of the gatherings, we may respond to books—perhaps
one book read together over a semester that addresses issues
related to teaching as well as scholarship—or articles and
book chapters, both recent works and influential classic texts
that we can revisit. Colleagues share responsibility for
selecting the readings for each gathering and colleagues take
turns facilitating discussions.
- These gatherings can also be occasions for colleagues to
share work in progress. After a colleague’s presentation
about her work in progress, we may, for example, read an
article or a book on the same topic.
- At these gatherings we also can share ideas or advice on
venues for publishing, ways to connect with publishers, ways
to organize and pursue book-length projects, etc.
- These meetings can also provide an occasion for bringing in
people outside the department and from beyond the campus to
provide insights into what other colleagues are doing, so that
we can be more informed about interdisciplinary connections as
well as scholarship within English Studies: for example,
between technical writing and cultural studies; literary
analysis and linguistics; postcolonial theory and recent
- We might also invite editors of presses and grant-writers.
Departmental Mentoring Activities
Ideally, the mentor’s role is to offer guidance to help a junior
faculty member achieve the professional development and productivity
needed for promotion and tenure while also fostering and modeling
collegiality. To that end, the mentor will regularly provide the
junior faculty member advice, feedback, and encouragement. A mentor
should discuss outlets for publication, forums for delivery of
papers, workshops on teaching, and so forth. The mentoring process
follows a two-phase structure along the following lines:
A. First Phase:
- The chair and other members of the Faculty Development &
Mentoring Committee [FDMC] will approach all incoming faculty
members during the first year to offer advice on the transition
to faculty status.
- During the junior faculty member’s first year, he or she
should seek advice from the FDMC and from other colleagues
within and outside of the department.
- The FDMC is a standing committee that provides mentoring
advice relating to departmental culture. The committee helps
junior faculty on a range of issues, including preparation of
teaching materials and the RPT dossier, as well as serving as
mediators for junior/senior faculty mentoring relationships. In
short, the FDMC is available to answer junior faculty questions
as well as offer advice on ways of mentoring effectively.
- During this first phase, members of the FDMC, along with other
colleagues, may also suggest ways that junior faculty can launch
their scholarly activities at UNCW, including discussion of how
to prepare papers to deliver at regional and national
conferences, how to write reviews of scholarly books, how to
chair sessions at conferences, and so on. Senior faculty are
interested in the professional development of junior faculty;
therefore, junior faculty should anticipate questions about
their ongoing work.
- Mentors should be generous in sharing syllabi and other
teaching materials to help mentees understand the abilities of
students, appropriate workload and types of assignments, the
differences between lower-level, upper-level, and graduate
courses. Mentors may also discuss grading with the junior
- Mentors can encourage effective pedagogy by discussing early
on how junior faculty might propose and develop new
undergraduate and graduate courses, honors courses, and learning
communities, as well as how they might incorporate new
technologies into their teaching. Mentors could also inform
junior faculty about teaching workshops through the Center for
Teaching Excellence and about financial support for these
projects through Cahill Grants and Summer Initiatives.
- Mentors can be helpful to junior faculty by explaining the
workings of Randall Library: how to open accounts, set up course
reserves, design research components of their writing
assignments, arrange library instruction for their classes, etc.
- Early in the first semester of employment, mentors should go
over the annual report format with new junior faculty,
especially its relation to earning tenure.
- Mentors should also discuss classroom observation forms and
SPOTS with junior faculty early in their careers.
- During this time, the junior faculty member might want to seek
advice from colleagues about navigating the boundaries between
public and private life in the academy and about developing
strategies for balancing personal life and family issues with
teaching and scholarly activities.
B. Second Phase:
- By the beginning of the third year of the initial appointment,
the chair should consult with the junior faculty member to
establish and formalize a strong mentoring relationship with one
or more faculty members within the department. While a blend of
personal and professional mentoring relationships is optimal and
worth encouraging, emphasis should be placed on professional
- No two ways of mentoring are exactly alike; it is up to the
colleagues involved to work out the dynamics of their mentoring
relationships, as guided by department and university policies.
- As much as possible, the mentoring dynamic should be grounded
in an equality that signals that junior colleagues are full
professionals. In fact, at times the mentor and mentee may
exchange roles, with the junior faculty giving valuable
suggestions to the senior colleague about teaching or
- Activities during this phase might include collaborative
research projects, sharing of drafts in progress, co-authoring
of essays, alerting one another to conferences and publishing
opportunities in each other’s areas of scholarly interest, and
also visiting one another’s classes.
- The junior faculty should consult with at least one mentor
about how to develop the dossier for the tenuring process during
Additional Suggestions for Productive and Supportive Mentoring
- It's not appropriate for a mentor to see a mentee as a
"mini-me"--that is, someone who votes the same, takes
the same approach to scholarship or departmental involvement,
maintains the mentor's allegiances and so on. In other words, a
mentor does not have a proprietary relationship over the mentee.
Mentees should never be pressured to take a particular side in
department matters or used as pawns in departmental politics.
- Instead, the mentor should serve as an example of how to be a
collegial member of the department by making time for the mentee
and acting as an examplar of a productive, conscientious
- A mentor should make time to read mentee’s scholarly work,
either in draft form or when published. Mentors should also take
responsibility for observing mentees’ classes, even if such
observations are not required.
- Mentors should encourage mentees to form other relationships
and to seek out a variety of perspectives, and they should
assist mentees in exercising judgment about those perspectives.
It is inappropriate for a mentor to discourage a mentee from
cultivating relationships with other colleagues, including
faculty outside the department.
- Mentors should refer mentees to other members of the
department when those colleagues are in a position to offer
effective feedback or advice (e.g., if someone is a reviewer for
a particular journal, a member of a particular committee, and so
- Mentors should make mentees aware of opportunities to
contribute to the life of the department (e.g., attending
functions, advising students, etc.); they should also encourage
mentees to take advantage of these opportunities, at least some
of the time and without spreading themselves too thin.
- Mentors should not nag. The responsibility for sending out
manuscripts, saying no to extra responsibilities, etc.,
ultimately lies with each individual faculty member.