What is a Mentor?

“Mentor: Someone who’s hindsight can become your foresight.” – Unknown

An ideal faculty mentor is someone who is:

  • Available
  • Flexible
  • Discrete
  • Knowledgeable about their department and the university
  • Experienced in the profession
  • Professional
  • Approachable

The role of a faculty mentor is to provide the following to his/her mentee:

  • Information
    • Although the College offers guidelines pertaining to its expectations for teaching, scholarship, and service, each department has its own unique characteristics, so it is difficult to standardize the role of the mentor in this area. At the same time, however, it is these very differences, sometimes vast, sometimes no more than a nuance, that can be confusing to a faculty member not familiar with the university, and which make mentoring a valuable and necessary process.
  • Advice
    • Aside from the more straightforward, tenure-related issues, a new faculty member might be trying to navigate around other, minor questions that s/he might prefer to ask of the mentor rather than a chair or a less-known faculty member. The mentor should attempt to establish a comfortable, open relationship with the mentee so s/he will feel comfortable asking questions that may seem “silly” or of a sensitive nature.

      For example:

      • To what extent can I ask for a particular schedule next semester?
      • Can I ask to teach (or not to teach) a particular class?
      • I don’t feel that my class is going well. Would you drop in and give me feedback?
      • Professor X is giving me a bit of a hard time. What should I do?
      • I think the Chair has given me too much to do this semester and I can’t keep up, but I’m afraid it will look bad if I say something. 
  • Confidentiality
    • In order for the mentee to feel comfortable (see #2), the mentor must make it clear that anything the mentee says will be kept in confidence.
  • Feedback
    • Everyone, whether or not they are new to teaching, can benefit from a little informal feedback, as long as it’s not of the unsolicited sort. The mentor should offer, for example, to go watch a class, with the understanding, of course, that it is strictly between mentor and mentee, and certainly not mandatory. Mentors might also offer to hear a practice run for a talk, or review a paper.
  • Advocacy
    • Mentors should be willing to advocate for new faculty members on issues that may arise, such as course scheduling, class limits, and service workload.

For more information on faculty mentoring, please contact:

Susan Briziarelli
Associate Dean
College of Arts and Sciences
p – 516.877.4118
e – sbriziarelli@adelphi.edu

 
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