Academic divisions adopt plans for mentoring junior faculty

Academic divisions across Johns Hopkins are implementing new mentoring approaches and deploying more resources to support junior faculty as they navigate their paths to becoming future leaders.

Following the university's approval of the updated Johns Hopkins University Principles of Faculty Mentoring in February, Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, vice provost for faculty affairs, and Jennifer Haythornthwaite, provost fellow, worked with academic leadership and targeted faculty groups to identify strategies for improving mentoring programs and increasing awareness. Schools have now adopted plans that meet their individual needs and are implementing elements such as onboarding and orientation activities, mentee needs assessments and goal setting, affinity groups for research and instruction, online resources, peer mentoring, mentor training and workshops, mentoring awards, and program evaluation.

"To continue serving as a world-class institution, Johns Hopkins University must be committed to the support and development of our junior faculty," said Robert C. Lieberman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, in a letter to faculty announcing the new mentoring initiatives. "Our entire community is enriched as they emerge as world-class scholars and educators, cultivating our students and creating knowledge for the world."

In order to address faculty mentoring more broadly across the university, a new task force convened this summer and will continue to explore mentoring issues. That group will administer a survey this month to assess the extent to which faculty have access to, and are satisfied with, mentoring opportunities. The task force also outlined parameters for a universitywide faculty mentoring award that honors the full-time faculty member who exhibits excellence, generosity of spirit, and dedication in mentoring junior faculty members. The call for nominations will be issued in January, and the recipient will be announced in the spring.

Enhanced mentoring is one facet of the university's commitment to "attract the very best faculty and staff in the world" as outlined in university President Ronald J. Daniels' Ten by Twenty vision statement. The Ten by Twenty Progress Report released this year says, "More than any other factor, our ability to attract, support, and, perhaps most importantly, retain faculty and staff will determine our future for decades to come. We must commit ourselves to practices, programs, and ethos so we are able to recruit faculty and staff who honor the standards of our best."

In his message to faculty, Lieberman said, "We are confident that these new initiatives will accelerate the work already underway to advance our faculty mentoring goals." He encouraged faculty members to contact their department chairs or associate or vice deans for faculty or academic affairs to learn more about their schools' mentoring plans. Information is also available on the Office of the Provost website.