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Faculty mentoring

April 2024 | Courtney Thornton

FY22-24 Implementation Plan Initiatives

  • 4.2.3. Develop and implement a cross-cultural and inclusive mentoring and mentoring education program for faculty, to improve mentorship of underrepresented or historically marginalized populations
  • 5.2.5 Develop and implement strategies that increase faculty members’ access to mentoring at the individual, department, college, and/or university level.  

The 2024 COACHE survey effort I wrote about last month has just come to a close. That presents a timely occasion to examine one area for improvement identified in the 2018 COACHE survey results – support for faculty mentoring. Since that finding, the Office of Faculty Excellence has spearheaded several efforts to strengthen faculty mentoring at NC State. Two such signature programs are Mentor-the-Pack and Faculty On-Track.

Mentor the Pack

Mentor-the-Pack is a software-based tool that facilitates mentor / mentee matching. It launched in April 2023 and has grown to include almost 200 active users. All NC State faculty are eligible to sign up in the system as mentors, mentees or both. Each mentee receives a list of potential mentors with expertise most closely related to their needs. Mentees make the first move by extending an invitation to a potential mentor. Once a mentor accepts the invitation, then the mentor then takes the lead to initiate the mentoring relationship. Mentor / mentee teams are encouraged to commit to at least one hour of interaction and support per month. 

Now one year after its launch, Mentor-the-Pack is making a difference. “Mentees have reported that the tool helped them find mentors they would have ever been able to find on their own,” said Diane Chapman, executive director and associate vice provost for faculty development in the Office of Faculty Excellence. “Mentors reported increased satisfaction when they were able to share their knowledge and expertise.” 

By fall 2024, Mentor-the-Pack will be upgraded by adding two additional features. Flash mentoring will provide an option for one-time mentoring meetings. Mentoring circles will accommodate group mentoring.   

“Mentor-the-Pack helps our faculty build flexible mentoring networks that serve as a valuable supplement to department-specific mentoring programs,” said Katharine Stewart, senior vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. “Our goal is to give our faculty an easier way to ask for mentoring that they may want — and also to give them an easier way to share their wisdom with colleagues.”

Faculty on Track

Faculty on Track is a research-based and theory-driven program designed by NC State’s own past chair of the faculty, Dr. Carolyn Bird, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in Agricultural and Human Sciences. The new program’s aim is to provide new and junior faculty – particularly those from underrepresented or historically marginalized groups – with an organized and informed approach to prepare for the reappointment, promotion and tenure (RPT) process.

“The Faculty on Track Program introduces strategies, resources, and supports to aid tenure-track faculty in understanding and navigating the tenure process,” Bird explained. Participants will expand their peer network through collaborative activities that provoke an exchange of ideas and perspectives and will engage with colleagues from different disciplines and at varied stages of their careers. Faculty will gain insights into approaches to highlighting their scholarship through documenting, packaging, and communicating about their academic endeavors. 

The first Faculty on Track cohort will begin in the fall of 2024.

In addition to introducing best practices at NC State, the Office of Faculty Excellence is a leading voice among the country’s faculty development community. Chapman edited the newly released book, Faculty Development on a Shoestring: Programs to Support Higher Education Faculty Using Little or No Resources, which includes contributions from several NC State Office of Faculty Excellence staff. Its section on mentoring and coaching features five case studies on affordable mentoring programs that foster early career success, teaching excellence, and inter-institutional partnerships.

More questions about faculty mentoring programs at NC State? Contact Dr. Katharine Stewart, senior vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, and Dr. Diane Chapman, executive director and associate vice provost for faculty development, Office of Faculty Excellence.