Academic Affairs

Faculty Mentoring at Emerson College

Emerson College is committed to the ongoing professional development of its faculty. A critical component of an effective faculty development effort is a mentoring program that helps faculty members succeed and prosper as scholars, creators, educators, and good citizens of the institution and community.

What is neXus?

Emerson’s "mutual mentoring" program, named neXus, engages first-third year faculty members (mentees) at the center of a hub that connects with multiple mentoring partners. This includes a senior department faculty mentor, a faculty colleague outside their department assigned by chairs and deans, and others such as an external mentor, and internal or external peer mentors that may be selected by the mentee. Mentees make the ultimate decision about the array of mentoring opportunities that best suit their needs. The goal is to provide opportunities for informal, non-evaluative conversations that contribute to the faculty member's professional development.

Fourth-fifth year faculty members, while not assigned official mentors, are invited to participate in institution-supported mentoring activities that will address areas of professional development common to all faculty members: pedagogy, research, scholarship and creative activity, professions in the academy, promotion and tenure, and service to the institution and community. They are also encouraged to engage in informal mentoring with colleagues of their choice.

Mentoring Activities

Organized activities will include skills workshops (such as grant writing and best practices in pedagogies), "peer circles" and a mentee online forum where faculty members can discuss and share their experiences, panel discussions and speaker presentations that address professional fields and trends, and mentor/mentee lunches.


All full-time faculty members are eligible to participate. Part-time faculty members are welcome to attend any programs but will not be matched with mentors. Mentoring for third- through fifth-year and mid-career faculty members will be phased in once the program is established.


The following characteristics define a strong faculty mentoring system:

  • A “mutual mentoring” system where the mentee is at the center of a hub that connects with a multiple mentoring partners such as a senior department faculty mentor, a faculty colleague outside their department, an external professional mentor, internal or external peer mentors, and a program of institution supported activities.
  • The institution provides professional development and skills workshops for mentees that include grant writing, preparing for tenure and promotion, classroom skills, etc.
  • A mentoring system that addresses both social-psychological support (i.e. welcome to campus, introductions, campus tour, office readiness, etc.) and career-advancement support (i.e. teaching and research development workshops, promotion and tenure guidance, etc.).
  • A two-track mentoring program—one for early-career faculty and one for mid/senior- career faculty.
  • Dovetail mentoring with existing faculty development opportunities such as internal grant opportunities, travel support for research, etc.
  • The mentoring system is voluntary, informal, “no-fault,” and is not evaluative.
  • Mentees select their own mentoring opportunities that best suit their goals.
  • The mentoring system is not department-based, but is institution-based and relies on offices and individuals from across campus to participate.
  • The mentoring system is intended to help faculty members succeed and prosper as scholars, creators, educators, and good citizens of the institution and community.
  • Institution supported mentoring opportunities address the four areas of professional development common to all faculty members: pedagogy; research and scholarship; promotion and tenure; and service to the institution and community.


The following components provide an array of opportunities in which a mentee may participate. A strong mentoring system may not provide all of these opportunities, but should provide many of them. A mentee may not choose to participate in all of these, but should participate in the ones that best address their own goals.

  • Contact person for pre-arrival questions and assistance in securing an office and equipment, orientation information, advice on housing and transportation issues, etc.
  • An orientation to introduce new faculty members to the institution’s policies, procedures, practices, organization, resources, and strategic plan.
  • Readiness, skill-building workshops for potential mentors and mentees (separate workshops) to include:
    • Demystifying myths about mentoring.
    • Review definitions and values of mentoring.
    • Discuss modes of mentoring.
    • Design a mutual mentoring program that works for you.
    • Identify typical stressors.
    • Mentor/mentee relationships and expectations.
    • Best practices of a successful mentor/mentee relationship.
    • How to discuss “critical incidents.”
    • How to discuss gender bias, “out-group bias,” and “solo situations.”
    • Testimony from past mentors/mentees.
    • “Mentor Circles”
    • Junior faculty members meet to informally discuss and share experiences.
  • Teaching Skills Workshops
    • “How to be a Professor 101..”
    • Managing the classroom climate.
    • Establishing student learning goals and goal assessment.
    • Teaching for Information literacy.
    • Keeping up with technical advancements.
    • Providing students feedback on their learning and grading practices.
    • Team teaching.
    • Creating effective small groups.
    • Teaching through class discussion.
    • Classroom incivility.
  • Professional skills workshops
    • Writing and research workshops
    • Grant writing workshops
    • Peer (ranked faculty) mentoring to share, discuss, and get feedback on teaching and research questions
    • Time and stress management
    • Work/life balance
  • Promotion and tenure workshops
    • Understanding the P&T process.
    • Department and college standards.
    • Demystifying my profession.
    • Articulating teaching, research and service goals.
    • My strategies on how to get promoted/tenured.
    • Strategic choice of service activities.
    • Panel of recently tenured/promoted faculty.
  • Research and Scholarship Presentations
    • Faculty present their research and creative scholarship to the campus.
    • Alumni speak to faculty about their professions.
  • Mentoring resources - Resources for faculty to develop their network (i.e. travel to meet external mentors or professional development workshops that address mentoring topics).
  • Feedback and outcomes evaluation
    • Monitor regularity of mentor/mentee meetings.
    • Get regular feedback from mentors on the effectiveness of their mentoring program.
    • Administer pre- and post-tests to mentors to gauge effectiveness, or conduct comparative study of participants with non-participants.

Early-career faculty mentees are usually most interested in becoming oriented with a new institution and location. Mentoring for early-career faculty members focuses on increasing teaching, research, and service skills; navigating the tenure track; creating work/life balances; making community connections; and developing professional networks.

Mid-career and senior mentees aims are usually different and include keeping up with the discipline and learning new skills; sustaining a good work/life balance, building new networks, resources, and support; exploring more varied research interests, developing a professional legacy; and retirement planning.

In the Mutual Mentoring model, mentees work with their department chairs and school deans to design their own mentoring “hub” of individuals and opportunities that best suits their needs. Mentees can be matched with an appropriate senior faculty member inside or outside their department, select a professional colleague as a mentor, and attend skills workshops (i.e. teaching or grant writing) to create a meaningful array of resources from which to gain support, advice, and skills. The Mutual Mentoring hub will differ among mentees depending on who and what they select.

From the “Mutual Mentoring Guide" (PDF), UMass Amherst, Office of Faculty Development:

The Role of the Mentor

Results of numerous studies suggest that intellectual, social, and resource support from senior colleagues, chairs, deans, and campus administrators may be critical to attracting, developing, and retaining new and under-represented faculty (Bensimon, Ward & Sanders, 2000; Rice, Sorcinelli & Austin, 2000). In particular, findings point to the importance of the essential mentoring role played by individuals within an early-career faculty member’s department, including other early-career faculty, more senior colleagues, and the department chair.

What issues and opportunities should colleagues be aware of in supporting early-career faculty? The guidelines and suggestions in this section can be used to reflect on how to create an effective and supportive mentoring partnership, to prepare for mentoring sessions, and/or to identify areas for learning that might contribute to further development as a mentoring partner.

Characteristics of a Good Mentor

A good mentor...

  • Is willing to share his/her knowledge and academic career experience.
  • Listens actively and non-judgmentally—not only to what is being said, but also to how it is said.
  • Asks open and supportive questions that stimulate reflection and makes suggestions without being prescriptive.
  • Gives thoughtful, candid, and constructive feedback on performance, and asks for the same.
  • Provides emotional and moral encouragement, remaining accessible through regular meetings, emails, calls, etc.
  • Acts as an advocate for his/her mentoring partner, brokering relationships and aiding in obtaining opportunities.

The pilot "mutual mentoring" system will first focus on first- and second-year faculty members in order to get them paired with a senior faculty colleague and a college colleague from outside their department. Department chairs will arrange mutually agreeable mentee/mentor assignments. Kick-off working lunches will be held in October to discuss best practices, the goals of the program, and the role of the mentee. A kick-off working lunch will also be held for mentors to discuss the role of the mentor.

Following these initial meetings, a series a workshops and presentations will be scheduled to address faculty success. The Office of Academic Affairs will work closely with deans, chairs, and the faculty to build a mentoring program that is responsive to expressed faculty needs.

Faculty members interested in the "mutual mentoring" system should contact their department chair or school dean.

The Office of Academic Affairs, working closely with the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and other campus offices, provides a number of activities relevant to faculty professional development. These activities are designed and created with faculty input based on their expressed needs and interests. Among the activities provided are:

  • Mentor/Mentee Lunches. Mentors will be given free lunch gift cards at a local restaurant to take their mentee to lunches to informally share ideas about teaching, research, and service issues. These discussions might include topics such as work/life balance, adjusting to a new community, introducing mentees to colleagues and including them in social events, and sharing academic experiences.
  • Classroom workshops on teaching best practices, including how to discuss “critical incidents” and incivility and bias; how to establish student learning goals and goal assessment; and how to teach information literacy.
  • “Peer Circles” where faculty members meet to informally discuss and share experiences.
  • Writing and research workshops; grant writing workshops.
  • Understanding the P&T process; department and college standards; demystifying the professions; articulating teaching, research and service goals; strategies on how to get promoted/tenured; a panel of recently tenured/promoted faculty discussing their experiences.
  • Faculty presenting their research and creative scholarship to the campus; alumni speaking to faculty about their professions.

Documents (PDF)

Faculty Development Fund (under Academic Affairs' Faculty Resources)

Dossier Archive

Mentoring Resource: Teaching Observation Template

Midterm Feedback Resources

Sample Peer Mentoring Forms

The Mutual Mentoring Hub Diagram


  • Myths and Assumptions and Typical Stresses of Early-Stage Faculty Moody, J. (2009) Mentoring Early-Stage Faculty: Myths and Missing Elements. San Diego. JoAnn Moody.
  • “Potential Roadblocks and Priority Mentoring Areas” and “What’s Missing: Provisions for Associate Professors” Avoiding a Mid-Career Crisis: Helping Faculty Manage Their Careers, The Academic Workplace: A Chronicle Webinar, September 20, 2011.

Examples of Faculty Mentoring Programs at Other Institutions

For questions, please contact, your department chair, or your school dean.