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Art Department Mentorship Plan


April 2023

Through active mentoring, we strive to create a stimulating and supportive environment that enables our faculty to do their most innovative and exciting research, their most effective teaching and their most dedicated service. We understand that this requires committed engagement that is reciprocal and supportive on the part of both mentor and mentee, reliant on the willingness of those acting as mentors to invest time in guidance on an ongoing basis. We recommend that all tenured faculty members in the department take an active role in mentoring.

Points of contact and liaison:

The Chair of  the Art Department is the main point of contact for divisional questions about the mentorship program; Chair Jimin Lee through Spring 2023. 

The responsibility of the chair:

At the beginning of a new academic year, the department chair formally recommends a pairing of mentor and mentee in the expectation for positive outcomes. This recommendation may consist of one or more mentors in consultation with that faculty member and the prospective mentor(s) within the department. When multiple mentors collaborate, good communication and additional planning are needed between mentors and the department chair.  Mentors are selected from among tenured full and associate professors familiar with departmental culture, the promotion process and the expectations for performance in research, teaching, professional practice and service. While the nature of the mentoring relationship is likely to change over time, the new faculty member will be able to use the mentor’s experience and expertise for several years, and if possible, until promotion and tenure review. If the mentoring match is not serving the new faculty member’s needs and the mentoring relationship proves problematic for any reason, the chair should appoint a new mentor to provide support beyond the first year. The chair should have a neutral and confidential way of evaluating and managing unsuccessful or difficult mentoring interactions.

The department chair ensures that new faculty engage in faculty discussions providing them with a voice in departmental decision-making, while also protecting them from being called upon to do too much service. It is the chair’s responsibility to ensure that tenure-track faculty are not overburdened with service requests.

The chair should clarify University expectations for tenure and promotion and should explain any field-specific expectations. The chair should ensure that the department develops, updates, and makes available a document on faculty expectations that complements University policies by explaining departmental policies, procedures, and standards. The chair is responsible for ensuring that departmental policies are applied transparently and consistently. The chair is similarly responsible for sharing information with all faculty on current University-wide policies. The chair should also systematically assess whether the mentoring partnerships are functioning and constructive, and should take steps to address cases where they are not.

The responsibility of the mentor:

The mentor should provide both informal and formal advice to the new faculty member on aspects of teaching, research and committee work or be able to guide the new faculty member in navigating the University’s large and seemingly confusing bureaucracy. Often the greatest assistance a mentor can provide is simply the identification of which staff one should approach for which task. It is important that the mentor be proactive in establishing and maintaining a constructive relationship with the mentored faculty member. The mentor should seek a first meeting at the earliest possible time and should initiate a conversation at an early stage to explore a plan for how to proceed over time. Each mentoring pair will establish its own rhythm and structure, but an early first meeting is important. The mentor should treat all dealings and discussions in confidence. There is no evaluation or assessment of the new faculty member on the part of mentor, only supportive guidance and constructive feedback and advice.

The responsibility of the new faculty member:

The new faculty member should maintain regular contact with the mentor and stay informed of any problems or concerns as they arise. When input is desired, new faculty should leave sufficient time to allow their mentor(s) the opportunity to review the proposed agenda and questions.

The foci of faculty mentoring:

The faculty mentoring should include guidance in multiple domains of career development. These include, but may not be limited to the following:

● Research/creative activity development: Mentors share information about professional opportunities internal and external to the university (funding sources, potential collaborators, publication or exhibition outlets, etc.). Mentors should frequently review research and provide advice on placing the results of research. The mentor provides guidance on departmental and university research expectations.

● Teaching skills: Mentors provide advice on preparation of course syllabi and on teaching strategies. They offer an overview and understanding of the department’s curricular structure and goals. They may visit the new faculty member’s classrooms or studios to observe.

● Professional practice: Mentors help establish external contacts and assist new faculty to understand the needs and expectations of external audiences. Mentors may provide guidance for documenting activities and professional achievements. Ultimately, the new faculty member is responsible for their own professional achievement, but the mentor can facilitate this process.

● Departmental culture/a sense of community: Mentors assist new faculty members in understanding the prevailing departmental and institutional cultures. As advisors, they can be relied upon to provide information about, among other departmental matters, time management, institutional procedures, assessment, and use of facilities. While the mentoring program is designed to support the work of new faculty members, mentors also benefit from the insights and expertise of the new faculty. They need to make clear that the voices of tenure-track faculty members are welcomed in departmental discussions.

● Academic advancement: Mentors communicate clearly the requirements and criteria for merit, tenure and promotion and help candidates meet these requirements. They may review the new faculty member’s bibliography and offer advice on goal setting and on developing materials for a successful faculty review process.

● Overall career planning, including short and long term goals: The mentor’s primary role will be to provide guidance on how to focus efforts on achieving both short- and long-term scholarly goals. Indeed, mentors can often be most useful in helping junior faculty design and/or evaluate realistic scholarly goals and strategies. They can be a key source of advice as faculty make decisions about research strategies; the process of applying for grant funding; or the pace, quantity, and outlet for publications or presentation of their work. Mentors who are in the same research area can provide valuable and constructive feedback on grant proposals.

● Mentoring for underrepresented minority faculty: Women and underrepresented minority faculty may face unique challenges throughout their academic careers which may affect their success. Some faculty may face special challenges in being fully accepted into the department and in receiving the kinds of informal mentoring that both help their careers and make them feel comfortable. Effective mentorship of URM faculty is everyone’s responsibility if we are to transform our department into a community where all faculty can thrive. Mentors, especially those who work with new faculty who express their challenges of encountering unconscious bias or experience implicit and explicit stereotypes of encounter inequities, should be sensitive and aware of these issues.

Feedback and assessment

Our faculty feels it is appropriate that mentor and mentee meet 2-3 times per quarter and each pair provides feedback to the chair at the end of each academic year. Performance feedback from a senior mentor is not mentoring, unless it is followed up with information about strategies, resources, and an offer to review materials. The chair establishes a set of agenda and criteria to assess the effectiveness of each faculty mentoring.

Mentees need and want to receive honest, candid feedback from their mentor. Equally important is the feedback mentees can offer to mentors. Engaging in reciprocal and on-going feedback is a vital component of the partnership. The feedback format should involve an agreement between the mentee and the mentor and include the following elements:

Effective feedback to mentee: commitment to the time required for meeting and agendas to ensure a productive discussion; active engagement in the identification of specific development goals for which guidance is sought; emphasizing actions, solutions or strategies to reach highest potential, including tenure and promotion; identifying mentee strengths and assets; highlighting areas for growth, development and enhancement; developing  listening skills and willingness to work outside of “comfort zones” across boundaries of gender/race/ethnicity/sexual orientation/culture/religion; soliciting and considering thoughtful feedback, positive and negative; actively committing to developing scholarly independence; and respecting personal boundaries.

Effective feedback from mentee indicates: whether the advice or guidance offered was beneficial and solved an issue; whether the mentor communication style and/or actions facilitate a positive mentoring experience; whether the mentor communication style and/or actions create challenges to a positive mentoring experience. 

Faculty personnel action review criteria and vote policy:

Please see the separate document: Art Department Faculty Personnel Review

Community-building activities:

● Faculty annual retreat at an off-campus venue

● Faculty dinner, usually in the beginning of fall and spring quarters

● Monthly informal gatherings at a local cafe in Santa Cruz

● Optional opportunities for faculty travels to visit San Francisco galleries and museums

● The Graduate Committee that all must attend for critiques on MFA students work,  the department quarterly Open Studios, and the annual Print Sale

● Various Arts divisional events such as Sesnon salons, Convocation and Winter Retreat