Responsibilities of the Early Career (pre-tenure) Faculty Member: Engaging with your assigned mentor
Mentoring relationships are more effective and satisfying, and best built when those seeking to learn from more experienced members of their professions take initiative and actively engage in developing these relationships.
Early career faculty members should take the initiative to respond to invitations to meet with their assigned senior faculty mentors, department chairs, or deans; request counseling and mentoring sessions if such sessions are not otherwise scheduled for them; attend information sessions offered to them; and be familiar with the policies and procedures concerning reappointment, tenure and promotion, in particular those in the Faculty Handbook (including the criteria identified in the Stanford Professoriate Appointment/Reappointment/Promotion Form found within the Handbook's Appendices) and in school faculty handbooks.
Moreover, early career faculty members are advised to tap into and develop a useful group of mentors to guide them in their academic professional development, tapping individuals both within and outside of their current departments, schools, and institutions. Mentors individually and/or collectively provide critical guidance, material and emotional support, connections, collaborations, as well as serve as thought partners, friendly and important critics, and champions. To make the best use of mentors, early career faculty members will identify their own questions, quandaries, and unmet needs and will proactively engage others whose experience and counsel can enable early career faculty to develop further their own senses of direction, priorities, and self-evaluation.
It's important to recognize that a faculty mentor’s strategic advice (like the advice contained in the counseling letter written at the time of reappointment) is not a prescription for achieving tenure or promotion, but rather a senior colleague’s best judgment, to be accepted or rejected as the junior faculty member chooses. Accordingly, inadequate counseling and mentoring is generally not considered sufficient grounds for appealing a negative tenure or promotion decision.
For the most current Stanford University policies concerning "Junior Faculty Counseling and Mentoring," please consult Chapter 2, Section 8 of the Faculty Handbook, and scroll down to section 2.8.1.
A useful book for assistant professors who want to make the most of these mentoring relationships is Survive and Thrive: A Guide for Untenured Faculty by Wendy Crone (Professor, Engineering Physics, and Associate Dean, University of Wisconsin-Madison). Abstract: "The experience of an untenured faculty member is highly dependent on the quality of the mentoring they receive. This mentoring may come from a number of different sources, and the concept of developing a constellation of mentors is highly recommended, but a mentoring relationship that is guided by the mentee's needs will be the most productive. Often, however, ...the mentee does not know their own needs, what questions to ask, and what topics they should discuss with a mentor. This book provides a guide to the mentoring process for untenured faculty. Perspectives are provided and questions posed on topics ranging from establishing scholarly expertise and developing professional networks to personal health and balancing responsibilities. The questions posed are not intended for the mentee to answer in isolation, rather a junior faculty member should approach these questions throughout their untenured years with the help of their mentors. Survive and Thrive: A Guide for Untenured Faculty will help to facilitate the mentoring process and lead junior faculty to a path where they can move beyond just surviving and truly thrive in their position."