Guidelines for Mentoring Junior Faculty in the College of Engineering

(Approved on June 24, 2004; revised version approved by ELT on April 14, 2011)


As with most professions, at the beginning of each stage of their careers, junior faculty are confronted with a confusing array of requirements and options. Many new faculty have had no exposure to the different and new aspects of their profession, and desire an experienced voice to guide them in tailoring the initial stages of a successful career. It is critical to continually provide opportunities for career guidance within the College of Engineering at Purdue University. A core aspect of such career guidance is a voluntary mentor/mentee relationships.

The career guidance and mentoring program has therefore been established in an effort to create a nurturing environment within all of the schools/divisions of engineering at Purdue University. This community will celebrate faculty successes and achievements, and will recognize and value different career paths. 

Goals of Career Guidance

  • To facilitate the success of junior faculty.
  • To ensure high morale and productivity, and therefore retention, of junior faculty.
  • To nurture collegiality among all engineering faculty.
  • To open communication lines between junior and senior faculty, with regards to information and procedures related to faculty affairs (including, but not limited to, promotion and tenure).
  • To improve the quality of the schools/divisions by nurturing the quality of individual faculty members and the quality of life in engineering.

The Career Guidance Process:

The mentoring process should be flexible and voluntary, with the understanding that career guidance will be easily accessible and provided to anyone who is interested in mentoring.

A list of potential mentors will be provided by the department head, containing the names of faculty members of higher rank who have volunteered to be mentors. It is recommended that at least one of the mentors should be a member of the primary committee; in addition, at least one of the mentors should be from a similar research area as the junior faculty member. The head and faculty will also work together to identify a mentor to address any other issues that would be helpful to the faculty member. One (or more) mentor(s) could be outside the school, or the college or even Purdue if it would be helpful for the success of the junior faculty.

Some of the mentoring processes (not the only ones) which have been shown to be successful are:

  • Independent Mentors: A junior faculty will select one to three mentors from the list and/or others in consultation with the Head, who will provide mentoring in different areas (such as research, teaching, work-life balance, etc.).
  • Joint Mentors: One to three mentors selected by the mentee will jointly provide mentoring in different areas.
  • Team Mentoring: One or two mentors will jointly mentor a team of 3-4 junior faculty.

During this process, the mentor(s) would serve as advisor(s) for the junior faculty member. A wide variety of levels of interaction can exist. The mentor(s) should, at the very least, be a source of information about the mechanics of administration, of research activities and teaching responsibilities. They/(S)he may also assist in identifying external and internal research resources and how to best utilize them; in understanding the campus and local communities; in interpreting announcements from governmental and other administrative sources; and in preparing documents, papers, reports, and proposals. In general, the job of the mentor(s) is to provide the mentee with his/her/their best advice, in order to aid the junior faculty member along his/her career path.

Mentors and mentees will be expected to participate in educational opportunities to learn about most effective practices regarding mentoring.

Expectations of the Dean

  • To ensure that the heads and the mentors are providing proper guidance to the junior faculty. This will be achieved by regular meetings of the junior faculty with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (ADAA), and/or the Dean.
  • To review junior faculty resource issues in an effort to maximize the success of all junior faculty members.
  • To oversee mentoring at an engineering-wide level and provide educational opportunities on effective practices in mentoring for mentors and mentees.
  • To include mentoring as a part of the heads’ performance evaluation in order to emphasize the importance of providing career guidance.
  • To regularly assess the effectiveness of the mentoring process in the College of Engineering.

Expectations of the Head

  • To inform junior faculty members of the promotion and tenure process, including departmental expectations and criteria. This discussion should take place within the junior faculty member’s first few months on the Purdue campus.
  • To meet with the junior faculty member on a yearly basis to discuss the written feedback provided by the primary committee.
  • To assemble a list of potential mentors within the department and outside. This list should be comprised of senior faculty members who have volunteered to be mentors. The head should also inquire from the junior faculty if s/he would like to have mentors outside of the department or the college or even outside Purdue. The Head should also work with the faculty member to identify potential mentors with the expertise/experience in the desired areas.
  • To oversee and monitor the mentor/mentee relationship through yearly discussions with both the mentor and the mentee; the head should be responsible for changing the mentors(s) if necessary.
  • To recognize the mentoring activities of faculty as part of their service to the School.

Expectations of the Mentor(s)

  • To learn about different mentoring methods and models in order to become an effective mentor.
  • To meet with the mentee at regular intervals.
  • To candidly discuss and provide feedback on any issues of concern to the mentee. 
  • To provide advice to the mentee on the paths to professional development and success.
  • To help identify additional resources (human or otherwise) for issues that s/he/they cannot address.

Expectations of the Mentee(s)

  • To formulate her/his yearly and long-term career goals and discuss with mentor(s)
  • To identify mentoring needs and communicate them to the mentor(s) and the Head
  • To commit to participate actively in the goals and activities agreed upon with mentor(s)
  • To participate in any mentoring education available.

Each Head will report the mentoring arrangements for faculty to the ADAA by the end of each fall semester. This information will include the mentor(s) for all Assistant and Associate Professors (including those who turned down the opportunity to have mentor(s)) and the views of the Head as to the success of each mentoring relationship.

This information will be used by the ADAA and the Dean to evaluate on a yearly basis the career guidance and mentoring process and to modify it as necessary, in order to ensure that the most successful process can be achieved and implemented in the College of Engineering.

(The recommended Career Guidance and Mentoring Procedures were discussed at the CoE Leadership meeting, posted on the website for comments and were voted and unanimously approved for implementation at the June 24, 2004 meeting).