Faculty Mentoring Guidelines

(revised 8/1/2011)

General Principles for Department Chairs, Mentors, Academic Leadership, and Junior Faculty Members

HSPH considers mentoring a necessary component of a junior faculty member’s intellectual development and the foundation of a successful career in academic public health.

The aim of mentoring is to provide advice on the range of topics relevant to scholarly performance and success, including research strategies, collaborations, teaching and student supervision, professional service, grant applications, article submissions, time management, and saying no.

This webpage outlines the principles and process that will guide the formal mentoring of junior faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In general, this mentoring will take place on three levels:

  • Department chair
  • Primary mentor (and secondary mentor if one is appointed)
  • HSPH academic leadership

Departments are encouraged to develop and implement mentoring initiatives that exceed the minimum expectations outlined below.

Department Chair

The department chair will have a broad and engaged supervisory role vis-à-vis the junior faculty member:

  • The chair will meet with a new junior faculty member in a timely fashion after he/she arrives.  The conversation will include the identification of a primary and (if appropriate) a secondary mentor.  The primary mentor should be a tenured or term professor at HSPH.  These assignments are especially critical if the new junior faculty member has had no prior association with HSPH.  If the chair is the mentor, a secondary mentor should be identified.  In some cases (e.g., GCD and IID), chairs may wish to cooperate in the assignment of mentors across departments.

Action: Within sixty days of the arrival of the junior faculty member, the department returns a form to the Office of Faculty Affairs specifying the choice of mentor(s). 

  • The chair will obtain an explicit commitment from the proposed mentor that he/she will devote the necessary time and attention to the mentee.
  • The chair will actively monitor the mentor-mentee relationship and will make a new assignment if that relationship is not productive.
  • Where appropriate, the chair will convene his/her senior faculty once a year to evaluate each junior faculty member.
  • By the end of each academic year, the chair will meet with each junior faculty member and provide a performance assessment based on feedback from senior faculty members (when available), the junior faculty member’s academic report, and updated CV.  During this meeting, the chair should also review relevant department policies and the school’s criteria and process for reappointment and promotion in light of the junior faculty member’s career stage.

Action: The junior faculty member’s academic report, updated CV, and a brief summary of the chair’s meeting with the junior faculty member are sent by the department to the Office of Faculty Affairs.  These documents are reviewed by the senior associate dean for academic affairs before being placed in the junior faculty member’s file at the end of each academic year.

  • The chair will make every effort to ensure that the departmental workload of a junior faculty member (e.g., teaching, advising, committee work) allows for pursuit of other activities essential for academic advancement.

Mentors

The primary mentor will play a central role in fostering the intellectual development of the junior faculty member:  The mentor will treat discussions with the mentee with appropriate confidentiality.

  • The primary mentor will meet formally with the junior faculty mentee at the beginning of his/her tenure at HSPH to develop a work plan for the coming year and longer-term career development strategies.
  • It is hoped that the mentor and mentee will have frequent subsequent informal interactions.  However, at a minimum, the mentor will hold a formal meeting with the mentee before the end of each academic year to discuss the mentee’s academic report, including plans for the coming year.  This meeting should take place before the junior faculty member’s meeting with the department chair.
  • The mentor will be accessible and available to respond to questions as they arise.
  • Especially at the beginning of a junior faculty member’s tenure, the primary mentor should review significant grant proposals and articles.

The secondary mentor is another important resource for the junior faculty member.  In addition to helping the junior faculty member adjust to the environment of the department and the school, the secondary mentor should be available as needed to provide another perspective on questions related to scholarly expectations and progress, work/life balance, and personal issues.

Academic Leadership

The HSPH academic leadership will also be closely involved in the progress of each junior faculty member:

  • The senior associate dean for academic affairs and the senior associate dean for research will participate in several sessions of the new junior faculty orientation program in order to provide their views on new junior faculty members’ academic reports.
  • The senior associate dean for academic affairs will meet with each junior faculty member at least every other year as well as after the junior faculty member’s reappointment or promotion has been reviewed.
  • The senior associate dean for academic affairs will monitor the mentoring relationship and facilitate a new assignment as necessary.

Junior Faculty Members

It is the responsibility of junior faculty members actively to seek guidance from a range of sources that will further their academic careers and to forge both formal and informal mentoring relationships:

  • Upon arrival, the new junior faculty member will consult with the department chair to identify primary and, when appropriate, secondary mentors.
  • After the appointment of the primary mentor, the new junior faculty member will arrange to meet formally with him/her to develop a work plan for year one.
  •  Before the end of each academic year, each junior faculty member will develop an academic report, encompassing research, teaching (if relevant), service activities, and plans for the coming year.  The junior faculty member will arrange to meet formally with the primary mentor to review his/her academic report. The junior faculty member will then meet with the department chair.
  • The junior faculty member should also take the initiative to ask the primary and secondary mentors specific questions as they arise.
  • If a strong mentor-mentee relationship fails to develop, the junior faculty member should work with the chair and/or the senior associate dean for academic affairs to identify a new primary mentor.
  • The junior faculty member should make the fullest possible use of the advice and other resources available to him/her (e.g., senior associate dean for research, senior associate dean for academic affairs, dean for academic affairs, and additional faculty members in his/her department, other HSPH departments, and other Harvard schools).