COE Mentor Leadership Seminar
August 14, 2017
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Hotel Vandivort – Ballroom
Attendees: David Hough, Frank Einhellig, Chris Craig, Gilbert Brown, James Sottile, Denise Cunningham, James Meyer, Cathy Pearman, Joan Test, Diana Piccolo, Mandy Benedict-Chambers, Cindy McMeley, Vickie Haynes, Gina Wood, Kim Roam, James Satterfield, Kim Finch, Michele Smith, Bill Agnew, Paris DePaepe, Cindy MacGregor, Leslie Anderson, Tami Arthaud, Steve Jones, David Goodwin, Sarah Nixon, Becky Swearingen, Janice Duncan, Kathy Gibson, Jeni Hopkins, Melinda Hammerschmidt
Dean Hough welcomed everyone and facilitated a table group introduction activity. He reiterated that the purpose of these seminars is to help all faculty be successful. This starts with the hiring process and continues throughout an individual’s career at MSU. The Mentor Leadership group will meet for two hours monthly through December. The group requested meetings be scheduled on Friday mornings. Dean Hough and Sharon will consider dates that do not conflict with departmental meetings, FAC and the Budget Committee meetings. The first activity was to review what was in the folders. After discussing amongst themselves, someone from each table then discussed ideas/topics for future seminars:
- Discuss what should be included in RP&T binders in support of what the Provost requires
- Discuss the matrix and how to work in it
- Relationship between mentors and P/T Department Committee and guidelines
- What is the mentor in charge of doing re: P/T committee members and mentors
- Building relationships; inform mentees about the culture of the department/college/university
- Navigate the waters
- Adhering to P/T guidelines; don’t add things not there; be familiar with the guidelines, what is acceptable
- Network mentors/mentees/others; support mentees, network for answers
- Special areas that may help mentee
- Limits on how far you go
- Consistency; mentors/faculty/common needs
- Teaching focus
- Research focus
- Service focus
- The question came up a few times regarding mentors for Instructors and Clinical Instructors applying for promotion; what to do
- All new faculty need a mentor
- Promotion Guidance
- Mentor/mentee strategies; how much do they need; one area more than others?
- Resources; logistic support
Dean Hough shared what he tells assistant professors about teaching, research, and service whenever they meet for monthly P & T seminars.
Chris Craig, Deputy Provost, discussed the importance of mentoring new faculty to ensure processes/timelines are understood and followed. Regarding the Provost binder, there are 60 new faculty this year. He will go over specifically what goes in binder 1 with all of them so they know what is expected. Faculty do not need to save everything. The Provost looks at the binders and makes the decision. If there is a question on a person’s folder, the dean is called to get the documentation from the faculty member. The process for P/T are reviews first by the department committee, then department head, dean and finally, Provost. Recommendations, not decisions are given. The Provost makes the decision. Regarding the matrix, some faculty do not know how complete it correctly. The faculty member should then work with their department. On criteria and teaching, Chris interviews all faculty candidates. Department P/T guidelines are reviewed every three years. New criteria can be deleted or added. Faculty should work with their department head and dean on this.
- Regarding binders given to new faculty, if there is a change made on the P/T document they were given, how does everyone involved get it? Chris said he met with all faculty going for promotion in July to review everything. Faculty can use the P/T guidelines they were given when hired or the current ones unless the ones they have are more than seven years old.
- It was brought up again regarding Instructors and Clinical Instructors that go up for promotion. Who helps them? Instructors do not have to go up for promotion unless they want to. Clinical Instructors can promote to Assistant, Associate, and Professor. They should have assistance from someone.
Chris went on to say that just satisfying the information for the Provost binder does not satisfy all of the Provost requirements. There needs to be a review from the department committee, department head and dean to look deeper in to supporting information. It then goes to the Provost for a decision.
Regarding assigning/selecting a mentor, do we assign or let them choose? Assigning does not always work. Informal mentors can sometimes be more helpful.
What if the mentor/mentee do not work well together? The mentor should talk to their department head.
How do department heads assign their mentors:
- Denise Cunningham has six new faculty members this year and does not have enough faculty in her programs to mentor all of them. This year she had to go outside of the department for two. She did find faculty that were familiar with the new faculty member’s program.
- James Satterfield has one faculty member without an official mentor but they do have an unofficial mentor. He looks at the personality of the new faculty member.
Chris went on to say that the Faculty Handbook alludes to mentors but there is no university-wide requirement. It has always been done informally at the department level. No specific requirements, but it is expected to occur. Gilbert Brown meets informally with new faculty/staff to see how things are going for them and to answer any questions they may have. Their conversations are confidential. Gilbert also works with graduate students.
Chris asked how or are mentors kept accountable if their mentee is not given a recommendation for tenure and/or promotion. Mentors can explain and help the mentee all they can, but that does not mean the mentee does everything correctly. The mentor puts their mentee in a better position to be recommended for tenure/promotion.
Dean Hough asked what is the role of a mentor in assuring the mentee understands what is needed. Mentors need to show mentees the COE website, especially policies. They should also go over committees and councils and note that this is the place minutes to meetings are located.
Discussion: There should be a collaboration. Mentor needs to clarify what goes in the binders. The department P/T committee chair and department head should work with the mentor/mentees to make sure all are on the same page. What if a member does all they can and the mentee still has problems with documentation? Chris responded it is up to the committee to decide to recommend the faculty member. It should be put down as questionable with notes on what needs to be done. There is a line drawn.
Mentees need to know that everyone goes through a review. Unless working toward tenure, all faculty and staff are reviewed by April of each year. Reviewing new faculty in February is hard to show they are fully on track. This is the time to make recommendations on ways to improve what they are doing. New faculty need to be research active. They need the research to be recommended for tenure/promotion.
Frank Einhelling, Provost, attended to discuss creating a culture of mentoring in support of teaching, research, and service. Mentors are important to help mentees along the way. There should be enthusiasm. The mentor should discuss structuring time and productivity. Research doesn’t diminish teaching but strengthens it. Being a mentor is part of our environment. It is an enjoyable part of what you get to do.
Comments: It is helpful to frame the problem of mentoring. The aspect of helping someone is good. Mentees want to do well. They are looking for how to do well. From the mentor aspect, do we want this person to stay? From the mentee, I want to stay. At times there is the appearance someone wants to stay, but they are actually looking for experience so they can move on.
Frank went on to say the mentor is not totally responsible for outcomes. They help the mentee along the way by providing the information/guidance they need. All faculty are hired with the idea that they will stay at the university. It does not always go that way. Faculty need to be research active to teach here. There are other places people can go if not interested in research. Department P/T committees need to look at publications. It was mentioned that sometimes they are blurred. They need to reach agreement regarding rigor.
Frank makes the decision regarding tenure/promotion for a faculty member. Department heads have the conversation each year with new faculty and need to know where they stand. They should not be marked satisfactory every year if it is not that case. That makes it hard on Frank if a different decision needs to be made. The department committee and department head need to be honest and follow through, not just pass people through the system. Should not be a social promotion.
Frank talked about research agendas. As far as research, a person cannot be an expert in everything. They should not repeat what is out there, but look for ways to improve. Work on something that interests you, but can be better. The research should fit in with your area of study. Be realistic and focused. Follow the focus. Discussion: Is material submitted on research theirs or are they tagging on? Mentors need to help new faculty understand the importance of developing their own research. They may or may not have something after three years due to different circumstances.
As far as annual reviews, Frank does not like numerical counts for the different categories. He considers this a gray area. In addition, taking five years to publish does not fly with him. There needs to be some proof along the way. Needs to be concrete evidence. A new faculty member should have more research by two years and especially three years. It can take longer to get a peer-reviewed publication, but you should receive a letter saying your article is in the process of being published. Choose something you can do; balance time. Frank tries to help new faculty as far as having time for research. His office has money faculty can apply for to work on research, but not many people apply. This could be due to the fact that faculty make more money teaching summer school. There is a point when you decide what will help you more. The dean gives a research stipend to new faculty for the first summer. The college also has an application for research funds on their website.
A comment was brought up about the annual review process for tenured faculty is the calendar year and probationary faculty is the academic year and it is problematic across the university. Frank said the reason is that the Board of Governors need information on key performance indicators for output in March. Faculty starting in August need to be part of that. Mentees should inform mentors about this. There are writing retreats offered at the university.
Gilbert Brown had everyone look at a case study, “Lynette Parson’s Story”. The study was discussed as a group. Gilbert ended the discussion noting that the case study showed a lack of support for her appointment, lack of P/T guidelines, gender bias among faculty, did faculty know how to mentor, the college/department were not on the same level or aligned with what should have been done in practice. He will send feedback to everyone.
Dean Hough asked the group if they thought our three departments and Greenwood could look at their P/T guidelines and create finer rubrics based on quality in addition to quantity. The group agreed.
Teaching: Most just use the student evaluations. Add something more rigorous? Regarding sample student work, mostly sees “best students”. What about struggling students? How did you help them?
Research: Request percentage of contribution on presentations/publications. Quality of publication including time between submission, reviews, revisions, and final publication.
Service: Is it substantive? On committees, did you meet? Is service related to your program or an interest? Ask for proof? Include percentage of work time devoted to service?
Discussion: It is hard to evaluate teaching from just student evals. What about peer evaluations? Some mentees ask their mentor to observe their class and give them feedback. It is time-consuming but becomes a better tool for looking at progress. Need to start discussions on this. CLSE has peer evaluations but it is not required. It would be better to build peer evaluations into guidelines instead of just using a checklist. Mentors could help with recommendations/suggestions for changes.
The dean asked department heads and Greenwood to put this on their next agenda to see if there is an agreement to work on this with their faculty. He said documents do not need to be the same across departments but it would be helpful if there were some type of general agreement college-wide. It would be better for mentors to discuss with mentees in-depth what is being looked at for evaluation.
Michele Smith handed out a draft mentor policy a Faculty Advisory Council subcommittee had been working on. Everyone should have seen it before but there are a few changes. She also handed out a document, “Does Mentoring New Faculty Make a Difference?” and asked everyone to read the sidebar on the first page for discussion.
- Struggling to find a path vs. finding a path
- Accurate, useful guidance
- Human interaction
- Can’t underestimate importance of mentor
- Mentoring important, timely, helping someone get to their destination quickly and correctly
Michele and the subcommittee members Joe Hulgus, Mandy Benedict-Chambers (Eric Sheffield and Denise Vinton no longer at COE) have been working on the draft mentor plan. Pages 4 -5 have suggestions for being an effective mentor and suggestions for being a good mentee. Discussion on effective mentor:
- Part of shared responsibility
- All benefit
- Senior faculty get more and more assignments and this can take away from other things
Michele added that sometimes people need to step away; faculty should mentor well and for the sake of the mentee. It means working with the mentee periodically, giving them a road map to get where they need to be in a timely manner. Should this exact plan be used? Possibly, but could use it as a say to start. Dean Hough would like to have this document on the COE website with an introductory statement stating COE understands the need for a mentoring plan. He would like departments/Greenwood to write up their own plan. The current draft has mission/vision/goals. A faculty member asked to have the draft reviewed at their next department meeting and to give their input to FAC.
- It is risky not to have an assigned mentor. New faculty should all be assigned a mentor
- It doesn’t work out, the mentee should talk to the department head about assigning someone else or another solution
- Mentors need to be on the same page to avoid miscommunication
- By the time a mentee goes up for tenure/promotion they should be on the same level as to knowing what is required
- If a new faculty member does not want a mentor, they do need to have someone to check in with so when time for tenure/promotion they cannot say they did not know
- A suggestion for department heads to attend the Provost meeting with new faculty to see what is expected for tenure/promotion
- Include instructors and clinical faculty if they want to advance
Michele will make some changes to the draft and send it back to the dean so it can be distributed.
After discussion with the dean, it was decided the next seminars would be for two hours on Friday mornings September through December. He will work with Sharon on the dates/times.
Dean Hough ended the meeting with letting members know what to expect in the future:
- Review the FAC’s draft Code of Ethics and how to discuss how it ties into mentoring
- Reach general agreement among mentors, P&T chairs, and department heads regarding all things related to reappointments, promotions, and tenure including instructors, clinical, and tenure-track positions
- Share information discussed at department faculty meetings
- The September meeting will focus discussion on the P & T dossiers and the draft COE Code of Ethics
Meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.
Notes submitted by Sharon Lopinot, Executive Assistant II