The Five Dimensions of Mentoring at MSU Denver
The Intended Beneficiaries of Mentoring
At MSU Denver, we hope to foster mentoring relationships that benefit all involved faculty members: the New Faculty Member, the University-appointed Faculty Guide, and any other spontaneous or informal mentors. This multi-directional approach is encouraged with the understanding that the development of substantive collegial relationships under the auspices of successful mentoring contributes to the retention of new faculty, the diversity of the faculty at large, and the professional productivity of everyone at MSU Denver.
The Locus of Control within Mentoring
This network of mentoring relationships will be supported through formal and informal programming on the MSU Denver campus. While the University may initiate and coordinate the primary assigned mentoring relationship, the framework allows for spontaneous mentoring relationships to develop between New Faculty and their peers, near-peers, senior faculty, and administrators at MSU Denver. It is the University’s desire that all of these relationships be supported with faculty development programs and other modes of institutional support. The bottom line, though, is that final ownership of mentoring belongs to the faculty!
The Characteristics of the Mentoring Relationship
Each mentoring relationship within the framework evolves uniquely, and faculty are encouraged to create a situation that is appropriate and beneficial to their individual experience. The mentoring relationship can be characterized by the number of participants (dyadic, multiple, etc.) and the fluidity of the roles of New Faculty Member and Faculty Guide. Furthermore, the relationship can be characterized by its level of intensity, the frequency of meetings, and the duration of the relationship (short-term, long-term, specific time period, etc.). Participants may differ in rank, experience, demographics, and identity. The relationship may be interdepartmental, intra-departmental, or even cross-institutional. Whether the relationship be of high or low intensity, there will be a baseline commitment to trust. Some participants may experience a caring and concerned relationship, or they may seek to nurture and protect their co-participants. We strongly encourage each participant to consider their needs and wants as they approach this relationship, and to incorporate the characteristics that will be most beneficial to them. The Center for Faculty Development has developed a Collaborative Mentoring Inventory that will facilitate conversation around these issues.
The Topics Addressed in the Mentoring Relationship
There is no limit to the scope of topics that can be addressed in the mentoring relationship. Broadly speaking, participants may choose to move beyond the obvious discussions of basic career advancement and delve into the concepts of the psychosocial aspects of academic life, improving teaching, acquiring grants, collaborating and networking, developing research, publishing, achieving tenure, feeling accepted by the academic community, becoming familiar with the campus climate, receiving social support, and even creating balance between professional and personal life. Again, we encourage each participant to actively consider what topics may be most beneficial to him or her, and to incorporate discussions of those topics into the mentoring relationship.
The Actions Taken by Participants in the Mentoring Relationship
Because the conceptual framework within which mentoring occurs resists prescribed roles, the actions taken by participants will truly define the mentoring relationship. Some of these actions may be active and causal and initiated by the Faculty Guide. For example, the Faculty Guide may instigate direct or indirect interaction with the New Faculty Member, he or she may be available to listen, encourage, celebrate success, give advice or feedback, observe teaching, share information, collaborate on projects, facilitate networking, model good professional practices, or protect and advocate their New Faculty partner. The New Faculty Member, for his or her part, may choose to listen to the Faculty Guide and engage the advice, share his or her own experiences, ask for help or feedback, share his or her own information, ask questions, observe his or her Faculty Guide’s classes, collaborate with the Faculty Guide, or participate in networking experiences provided by the Faculty Guide. The actions taken by each participant in the mentoring framework will be unique to the individual needs and interests of the participants. A conscious approach to these actions will provide structure and encourage well-being.