Faculty Mentor Program

Binghamton University hires exceptional faculty and their success is critical to the University’s aspiration to become the premier public university of the 21st century. 

Tenure-track faculty are responsible for achieving strong records in research and teaching, as well as reasonable service, by the time the tenure evaluation process begins at the beginning of their sixth year. The burden of proof is these faculty to demonstrate that they have met expectations for tenure and promotion.

Senior faculty can help their tenure-track colleagues achieve success. To do so, all schools and departments will develop mentoring programs for tenure-track faculty. While approaches will vary across departments and schools, all units are expected to provide mentoring to tenure-track faculty. The success of any mentoring program depends on the efforts of principal stakeholders: deans, department chairs, faculty colleagues and tenure-track faculty themselves.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Role of the Dean

    Deans provide academic leadership, including program development and assessment, faculty hiring and evaluation, and faculty mentoring. In non-departmentalized schools (Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Management and in the Libraries), deans work directly with faculty to develop mentoring programs. In departmentalized schools (College of Community and Public Affairs, Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science), deans work with department chairs to assure that appropriate mentoring programs are developed. Calling on faculty from outside the department or school to mentor tenure-track faculty may be appropriate in any unit; in small units it may be essential. 

  • Role of Department Chair

    In departmentalized schools, department chairs play a critical role in mentoring new faculty. An important source of information for new faculty members, they should meet with new faculty to share information on department operations, culture, priorities and initiatives; the promotion and tenure process; and expectations for teaching, research and service; and should periodically to provide performance feedback.

    The tenure review process commences at the beginning of year six. New tenure-track faculty have five years — not six — to establish a strong teaching and research record that will merit tenure and promotion. Chairs should encourage new faculty members to develop a plan for establishing a successful research program that takes into account the time necessary for revision and re-submission of manuscripts and grant proposals. 

    Chairs should work with colleagues in their departments to develop effective mentoring arrangements and to appropriately pair mentors and mentees. 

  • Role of the Mentor

    Tenure-track faculty members are responsible for understanding expectations for tenure and promotion and for meeting them. Mentors can provide support to help them be successful. Mentors provide constructive feedback, but their role is not to evaluate performance or pass judgment. Mentors are a resource to new faculty in their quest to establish record of excellence in teaching and research, become integrated into the department and campus, and to feel at home at Binghamton University. Mentors should meet periodically with their mentees, initially, to get to know their mentees, establish a relationship of trust and open communication, and to answer any questions the mentee has. Later, meetings should address mentees’ progress, challenges and successes in advancing their research agendas and becoming effective teachers, in creating a good work-life balance.

    Successful mentors are:

    • Accessible
    • Supportive
    • Empathic
    • Candid
    • Constructive
    • Willing to help mentees expand their networks in the department and beyond
    • Knowledgeable about what professional success requires
    • Knowledgeable about campus resources or willing to find out about them 
  • Role of the Mentee

    As professionals, new faculty members have the responsibility to demonstrate success in research and teaching. To assure that they make the best use of mentors, they should keep their mentors informed about any concerns they have about teaching, research or service. They should also use meetings with their mentor to pose pertinent questions about expectations and procedures. New faculty members should be as open as possible with their mentors about problems they are encountering. The mentee should not view the mentor as a sole source of guidance or information about career-related issues.

Changing mentors

In some cases, a mentor will experience changing responsibilities and commitments that make it impossible to devote sufficient time to his or her mentee. In some cases, mentors and mentees will not be compatible. Any mentor or mentee should be free to send a request to his or her chair or (in non-departmentalized schools) dean to dissolve the mentoring relationship and identify another mentor for the new faculty member. In such cases, neither mentors nor mentees should feel that they have failed. Mentoring relationships require time and rely on personal compatibility and will not always be successful. When they are not, it’s best to make a change, and neither party is to blame.