untenured faculty members
faculty members represent an investment made by their academic departments or
programs and the College. The department chair is responsible for providing
support for that faculty member to continue developing professionally in ways
that will realize that investment.
foundation of this support is the mentoring relationship the faculty member has
with the chair (mentor). The mentor should have regular, structured contact
with the untenured faculty member to solicit information about the faculty
member’s courses and other work as well as to answer questions, brainstorm
solutions, offer resources, and normalize and contextualize the difficulties of
the early years of academic life. Optimally, this contact should occur weekly
or bi-weekly throughout the first semester, and less frequently throughout the
second semester. The topics of these meetings might include an orientation to
the department, office hours and accessibility, teaching strategies, time
allocation, how to make time for research, how to fund research, integrating
into the campus community, long-term professional goals, and departmental
expectations for evaluations, as well as guidance about logistical matters.
Departmental colleagues are encouraged to participate in this support of the
that much of the untenured faculty member’s efforts in the first year involve
teaching, mentors should provide focused support for teaching. Mentors are
encouraged to preview and provide feedback on syllabi and other course
materials, and to share teaching materials as appropriate. After visiting a
class meeting taught by the faculty member, mentors should provide specific,
actionable feedback about the class. The mentor might facilitate visits by the
faculty member to class meetings of departmental colleagues and discussions
with those departmental colleagues about teaching. Teaching should be discussed
at formal department meetings or the more informal opportunities departments
have to gather.
tips for supporting junior colleagues
- Facilitate access to
nonacademic resources (e.g., housing, child care, school, dual careers). Human Resources is also a good source of information for general
information about living in the Conway and Little Rock communities.
- Foster connections and
visibility of junior faculty. For example, accompany new
faculty to university events, so you can introduce them to people outside the
department. Create an opportunity for junior faculty to present their scholarly
or artistic work in a department or campus-wide forum.
- Make sure junior colleagues
have access to college calendars.
- Protect new faculty from
department service, and encourage them to say “no” to most college service
requests in their first year. Guide them in selecting
service obligations in subsequent pre-tenure years, suggesting areas where
their experience and interests could be most useful.
- Be mindful of the number and
timing of new class preparations for junior faculty, especially as they are
getting acclimated to the college.
- Demystify the department and
campus culture. For example, discuss the
departmental norms for course reading loads, types of assignments, and
distribution of grades. Share syllabi to assist their course preparations.
Accompany new colleagues to faculty meetings to decipher acronyms and explain
nuances in debates.
- Encourage new faculty
members to interact with, and seek advice from, senior colleagues in the
department. It is important to
communicate early on that you are not the only person in the department that
the newcomer can come to for advice. A simple, “You might ask Elizabeth what
she thinks, too” may be all they need to feel comfortable approaching a senior
- Remind junior faculty of the
academic dishonesty policy and offer to serve as a third-person observer when
meeting with difficult students.
translate the formal college policy on what is expected for the pre-tenure
reviews and for tenure and promotion. Encourage
the junior colleague to talk with the area chair for additional information.
- Discuss the annual report
process. New faculty should
anticipate completing an annual report for each calendar year.
new faculty to start collecting documents to subsequently use in their
pre-tenure and tenure files. This
should include graded exams and papers from their courses, letters from
colleagues acknowledging service activity, evidence of participation in campus
workshops or events, and evidence of professional development (e.g., conference
participation, drafts of manuscripts, grant applications, etc.).
junior faculty to attend faculty development events offered on-campus and to
apply for professional funds for which they are eligible.
- Give junior faculty
feedback—early and often. This might include reviewing the syllabus for a new
course or an exam for a class, debriefing after a classroom visit, or meeting
to discuss their annual report.
- Be aware of common signs that a new colleague is
not successfully acclimating to the department or the college.
Try to identify colleagues who rarely ask
questions and generally avoid feedback when offered.
They may be coming from a highly competitive
environment and simply need to be reassured that asking for help at Hendrix is
not seen as a weakness and that we are all striving to become better
teacher-scholars. Another red flag is a colleague who seems to be constantly
overwhelmed. Having a conversation with this colleague about how you manage
your work-week between teaching, research, and service and your larger
struggles balancing your work and home lives may give them some ideas on how to
better manage their time. At the same time, you will be communicating that they
are not alone in their struggle. A final sign of a colleague who is having
difficulty acclimating is one who only comes to campus to teach and hold office
hours, but rarely for larger campus events, informal department gatherings, or
to get to know colleagues and students one on one. A simple invitation to join
you for the next poetry reading or lunch in the Caf with a small group of
colleagues may ease their transition to a more visible, active community
Tenured faculty members.
faculty members is important in maintaining the vitality of a department.
Tenured faculty members face unique career challenges in midlife and/or at
career’s end. They are also indispensable resources with historical or
institutional memory that can aid a department chair on a range of issues. This
is particularly the case for those colleagues who have served as department
chair before you.
for creating a supportive environment for tenured faculty members
- Create opportunities in the
department for interaction between tenured and untenured faculty members to
prevent generational groups from arising. You might
ask a junior and senior colleague to work on an ad hoc departmental committee
together or collaborate on bringing in an outside speaker.
- Ask senior and tenured faculty
members for advice on critical matters or for leadership on a particular
project. Seeking out a second opinion from
someone more experienced than you not only makes your job as chair less
isolating, but it also signals to the other person that they are a valuable
member of the department.
- Encourage tenured faculty members to
help mentor junior members in the department. You
might help facilitate a mentoring relationship based on faculty research or
teaching interests and expertise.
- Celebrate tenured faculty
achievements by organizing book signing events, announcing achievements on the
department website, or nominating them for awards. Consider who might be at the right point in
their career for a nomination for the Methodist Teaching Award or for a
Distinguished Professorship and be prepared to make the nomination.
- Communicate your willingness to
discuss mid or late-career challenges. Point
colleagues to useful resources within and outside the college.
Suggestions for enhancing tenured
faculty members’ careers
- Keep informed of your colleagues’
academic work and pass on relevant new book advertisements, upcoming conference
and workshop announcements, and funding opportunities.
- Offer to read your colleagues’
scholarly work if they are looking for feedback from a non- specialist. While
you cannot do this for every one of your departmental colleagues, making
yourself available when the opportunity arises will communicate your genuine
tenured colleagues to apply for internal and external grants to support their
research or teaching, if they are not already doing so. Sometimes
a little encouragement is all someone needs to submit their work for competitive