General Principles for Department Chairs, Mentors, Academic Leadership, and Tenure-track Faculty Members
Harvard Chan School considers mentoring a necessary component of a tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan 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)
- Harvard Chan School academic leadership
Departments are encouraged to develop and implement mentoring initiatives that exceed the minimum expectations outlined below.
The department chair will have a broad and engaged supervisory role vis-à-vis the tenure-track faculty member:
- The chair will meet with a new tenure-track 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 Harvard Chan School. These assignments are especially critical if the new tenure-track faculty member has had no prior association with Harvard Chan School. 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 tenure-track faculty member.
- By the end of each academic year, the chair will meet with each tenure-track faculty member and provide a performance assessment based on feedback from senior faculty members (when available), the tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty member’s career stage.
Action: The tenure-track faculty member’s academic report, updated CV, and a brief summary of the chair’s meeting with the tenure-track faculty member are sent by the department to the Office of Faculty Affairs. These documents are reviewed by the dean for academic affairs before being placed in the tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty member (e.g., teaching, advising, committee work) allows for pursuit of other activities essential for academic advancement.
The primary mentor will play a central role in fostering the intellectual development of the tenure-track faculty member: The mentor will treat discussions with the mentee with appropriate confidentiality.
- The primary mentor will meet formally with the tenure-track faculty mentee at the beginning of his/her appointment at Harvard Chan School 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 tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty member’s appointment, the primary mentor should review significant grant proposals and articles.
The secondary mentor is another important resource for the tenure-track faculty member. In addition to helping the tenure-track 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.
The Harvard Chan School academic leadership will also be closely involved in the progress of each tenure-track faculty member:
- The dean for academic affairs will participate in several sessions of the new tenure-track faculty orientation program in order to provide their views on new tenure-track faculty members’ academic reports.
- The dean for academic affairs will meet with each tenure-track faculty member at least every other year as well as after the tenure-track faculty member’s reappointment or promotion has been reviewed.
- The dean for academic affairs will monitor the mentoring relationship and facilitate a new assignment as necessary.
Tenure-track Faculty Members
It is the responsibility of tenure-track 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 tenure-track 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 tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty member will develop an academic report, encompassing research, teaching (if relevant), service activities, and plans for the coming year. The tenure-track faculty member will arrange to meet formally with the primary mentor to review his/her academic report. The tenure-track faculty member will then meet with the department chair.
- The tenure-track 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 tenure-track faculty member should work with the chair and/or the dean for academic affairs to identify a new primary mentor.
- The tenure-track faculty member should make the fullest possible use of the advice and other resources available to him/her (e.g., dean for academic affairs, chief diversity, inclusion, and belonging officer, associate dean for faculty affairs, and additional faculty members in his/her department, other Harvard Chan School departments, and other Harvard schools).