Office for Faculty Development

Relationship to Tenured Faculty

Mentoring Mid Career Faculty

Mid-career faculty should also be mentored. The road to tenure is so demanding that once a faculty member achieves tenure, she or he can sometimes feel that the rest of one’s career is anti-climactic and involves simply maintaining the status quo. Nothing could be more wasteful to a university. Mid-career faculty are the nerve center of the department/university, without their participation, the department cannot achieve its goals and remain a dynamic force for change and innovation. They are crucial to assessing the department’s and institution’s visions, sharpening goals at department and university levels, and ensuring effective implementation of articulated initiatives. Some of the suggestions and resources in Helping in the Professional Development of All Tenure-Track Faculty apply to tenured faculty. 

Some suggestions:

  • Once a faculty member receives tenure, sit down with her/him and chart a three-year plan of research, teaching, and service.
  • Make a genuine effort to stay interested in the teaching and research/creative work of tenured faculty. Offer to look at work in progress.
  • Encourage them to participate in the department or college colloquium or brown bag lunch.
  • Encourage them to apply for grants and to continue to attend conferences. Make sure they know about and take advantage of the new conference travel entitlement.
  • If you see that there may be an issue with their keeping up in the field and/or with technological developments related to the field or to teaching, give encouragement and point them to available resources or to peers who might be able to reinvigorate them; you might even offer to engage together in some aspect of new developments. Point them to workshops available from ORSP, the Library or IT, for example.
  • Be aware that the professional life-course continues to have its ups and downs after tenure. Significant midlife transitions are normal.  Just when one thinks everything is settled, the ground can shift, whether in one's personal life or in professional interests. Be as supportive as you can during these changes. You can also consult with the Dean about any concerns you have; he or she can play an important supporting role to you, to the faculty member, or to both.
  • Publicize the accomplishments of tenured faculty to the department and to others in the university administration and research office. 
  • Celebrate significant accomplishments and encourage collegiality. 
  • Help the newly-tenured or newly-promoted faculty member see the big-picture of the university – the several types of contributions that one could make to the work of the university;
  • Suggest useful matches between the faculty member’s particular strengths and the department, college, or university committees and academic initiatives that would benefit from those skills.  
  • Encourage mid-career faculty to involve themselves in work both inside and outside the department. Post-tenure is a time of rich opportunity; it is a moment to enlarge the scope of one’s vision in order to explore the myriad possibilities for participating in and affecting important niches in the wider landscape of the college and university.
  • It’s important for faculty members to know that in order to advance from Associate to Full professor, they should demonstrate active scholarship, reflective teaching practices, and continued meaningful service of a robust and vibrant quality. Promotion to full professor is a significant achievement, and because it is the highest rank that a faculty member can attain, the review process for this promotion is every bit as rigorous as the review for tenure and it involves external reviewers’ assessment of research, scholarship and creative activity. Therefore, department chairs should encourage tenured faculty members to aspire to this rank. See the Red Book and Policies and Procedures on the Provost’s website.
  • After tenure, faculty members go through periodic multi-year reviews once every seven years. Department chairs should remind tenured faculty of this requirement and encourage them to complete the review in a timely manner. The PMYR is not as involved as a promotion or tenure review but it does require the faculty member to do a personal statement explaining her/his accomplishments and activities in the three areas in which one is evaluated. Consult the link on the Provost’s website for details.

In whatever stage they are, tenured colleagues are a great resource. They might have been department chair before you, so ask for their counsel and help. They may become the department chair after you so involve them in decisions and tasks; in this way, your tenured colleagues are not only  helping you but are also learning valuable information and skills for the future.