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Mentoring program offers a helping hand

Women's Faculty NetworkBy Jessica DeLeon, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

When associate professor of journalism Tracy Everbach began working at UNT, journalism professor Sheri Broyles frequently visited her office.

“Every day, she’d be, ‘What are you working on?’” Everbach said. “You really need someone like that.”

Everbach and Broyles, along with Kimi King, associate professor of political science, and Linda Marshall, psychology professor, have set up an organization to provide that kind of mentoring – The Women’s Faculty Network. More than 100 women attended the first meeting in the fall and members have returned for more events to exchange ideas and answer questions.

Above, from left, King, Broyles and Everbach.

The organization is one of 19 teams and individual faculty members who received funding from the Faculty Mentoring Program, created last year by the Office of Faculty Success, to promote mentoring.

The program supports UNT’S Four Bold Goals to become a national leader in undergraduate education, research productivity, employee relations and community engagement by helping faculty gain institutional knowledge, supporting their research and teaching efforts, developing professional networks and promoting diversity.

The Faculty Mentoring Program began after the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, known as COACHE, surveyed junior and senior faculty and found that UNT needed to put more effort into mentoring. The Office of Faculty Success followed the model of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and that of Mary Deane Sorcinelli, associate provost for faculty development, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“These grants provide a catalyst for mentoring opportunities and creates a culture of mentoring across the faculty pipeline,” said Christy Crutsinger, vice provost for Faculty Success.

Team grants, which are about $5,000, are given for larger scale projects and have gone to teams focusing on the career development of assistant professors in art education, associate professors in economics and research teams in music and teacher education, as well as:

  • La Collectiva, an interdisciplinary group of five Latinas, which brought three speakers to discuss issues of concern to its members.
  • The Fulbright Mentoring Group, which aims to increase the number of applications for the Fulbright Scholars Award.
  • Single Women's Alliance (to) Mentor (and) Promote Excellence Daily (SWAMPED), which features unpartnered women mentoring each other.

The Women’s Faculty Network, which is for tenured or tenure-track faculty members, has had speed mentoring sessions, in which members can quiz a facilitator on a topic for 20 to 25 minutes. Topics at one session included “A Mom Tells All: Getting Tenure and Promotion with Children” and “You’ve Gotta Ask: Negotiating Your Way to Success.” Provost Warren Buggren spoke with them for two hours, answering about 30 questions and suggesting that UNT may consider providing a day care center.

"We are excited about what lies ahead, and it is visionary what Provost Burggren and Vice Provost for Faculty Success Christy Crutsinger are doing with these projects,” King said. “Next year, we will focus on mentoring, innovation, negotiation and evaluation as key areas to enhance faculty success. The best part of this process has been the creative ways we are thinking and helping each other with strategies for what works and what does not."

Participants have found that they enjoyed talking to each other about issues and concerns with other women.

“It became therapy – ‘Oh, gosh, this happened to you, too?’” said Broyles, who also is interim chair of the strategic communications department.

Tao Zhang, kinesiology, health promotion and recreation in the College of EducationMicro grants, about $1,500, were given to six faculty members, including:

  • Amanda Wright, assistant professor of biology, participated in a program from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity to help her achieve her research and writing goals.  
  • Tao Zhang, right, assistant professor of kinesiology, health promotion and recreation, is using his grant to develop a relationship with a professor in South Carolina in hopes that it will lead to a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

For Mei Chang, assistant professor of educational psychology, the micro grants allowed her to receive help from a mentor outside of the institution in her field. She sought guidance for identifying resources and networking opportunities for early career scholars, and reviewing her grant applications targeting early career emerging researchers.

“It’s a learning process,” Chang said. “I feel that getting the grant helps put the value and importance of mentoring into perspective for me. It also increases my awareness of various free mentoring resources for junior faculty out there.”

Like other faculty members who received the grants, she is grateful for the Office for Faculty Success and its initiatives on mentoring.

“They show they do care about the success of our faculty,” Chang said.

Above, from left to right, Kimi King, Sheri Broyles and Tracy Everbach.

(Photo by Gary Payne)


Posted on: Tue 14 May 2013

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