Mentoring Junior Faculty at an Average Teaching College

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I am a tenured professor, fairly recently so, who is mentoring a new faculty member in my department at my average four-year teaching college with a 4-4 load. My "mentee" does not seem interested in the teaching mission of the college (as an example s/he wants to teach same preps each semester instead of creating new courses, which the department wants), not that s/he is interested in research either (has said as much), and seems to be having trouble making the switch to the requirements (a fair amount of service included) of a tenure-track position (wanted monetary compensation for doing typical service work). The culture of my college is to write positive reviews even when they are not merited; my chair thinks everything is going swimmingly with this person (chair is not clued into personnel issues). I am trying to figure out ways to communicate positive ideas for improvement (these have been met with silence or resistance thus far by "mentee") and then if necessary how to word the assessment I have to write of "mentee" so that I discuss the positive but address the concerns I have. I would prefer to see improvement, but to be frank don't want a colleague for the rest of my working life who is not interested in doing the job.

Part of my hesitation comes from the fact I teach at an average teaching college and don't feel like I should judge others given I have published little, a few articles (I am not expecting "mentee" to publish a lot but to have interest in scholarship), though I have presented a lot and taught a ton of different classes, done different kinds of teaching much valued by my college, and done tons of service at different levels (department and college). I feel fortunate to have the job I do in a profession I love, but I am a realist: I am having an average career at an average school and I find I am uncomfortable acting like some kind of Voice of Wisdom.

Have others been in this situation? I would welcome your advice.

Any one of those three issues wouldn't faze me in a mentee, but all three in one candidate?  That's a doozy.  

You know what it takes to get tenure and be successful at your school, therefore you are ideally suited to be mentoring this person. You are the Voice of Wisdom there, and doubly so because you've been through the tenure process recently.  

This assessment is meant to be developmental, right?  Then let it be - point out the issues.  

What's the department's ideal teaching rotation for this person vs. what they want to do?  
Ideal service load?
Typical research output?  

I would answer those questions and then compare them to what the mentee wants to do.  And then I would sit down with the mentee and point out the issues, explicitly, one last time.  Ask if s/he's overwhelmed or feeling impostor syndrome, but you need to point out the discrepancies.  But then I would also put the shortcomings and your advice for remedying them into the assessment. 

averageprof, you're not doing your mentee any favors by soft peddling the comments, this sounds like an occasion for tough love, unless you honestly feel that the current level of performance in research, teaching, and service by your mentee will lead to a tenurable record. You might not be a research superstar, but it sounds like you've remained engaged in scholarship, and have engaged in teaching and service in a manner that is valued by your institution, so you seem eminently qualified to provide advice to the junior faculty member.

I think an honest discussion of the expectations for tenure in your department, positive aspects of the junior faculty's members performance, as well as areas to work on, is in order. All of this should be clearly documented, and if over the years, the junior faculty member remains recalcitrant, and continues to fall below expectations that have been clearly communicated, then this paves the way for a tenure denial, or even non-reappointment at the third year review. I understand that faculty members find their own balance of research, teaching, and service in their contributions to the department, but this junior faculty member sounds like s/he wishes to slack in all three categories, which is simply unacceptable.

Did this faculty member come to you from many years on the adjunct track? I just ask because the only reason I can think of for asking for monetary compensation for routine service seems to be a consequence of being firmly ingrained with the attitude that "adjuncts are only paid to teach."

Mentees don't always listen. There may well be nothing you can do. Sometimes you just have to let the nonrenewal/tenure denial happen. You are under no obligation to support a mentee's case. One AP in our department was told to publish in better quality journals, but assumed he knew better, and ended up being denied tenure.

As far as your ability to judge, it's your job, and it's not that difficult to do. You know as well as anyone what the expectations are and whether an AP is meeting expectations.

She needs to be notified exactly what she needs for tenure and promotion. It is up to her to listen or not.  Not mentioning problems early may ended up a big trouble later.


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