New Faculty Orientation and Mentoring in the California State University
Faculty Affairs Committee, CSU Academic Senate - March 1996
It is widely recognized that the recruitment of a high quality faculty is but the first step in developing and maintaining superior academic programs. Given the high cost of living in many of the areas where CSU campuses are located, it is particularly difficult to recruit young faculty who can expect to be placed toward the lower end of the salary schedule. This problem is doubly true in the case of women and minority faculty, who are being aggressively recruited by colleges and universities nation-wide, many of which can offer higher salaries, lower teaching loads, and greater support to new faculty. Under such circumstances, it is especially critical that we retain those that we have successfully recruited. As part of an effort to examine the current state of efforts to maintain a high quality faculty, the Faculty Affairs Committee of the 1995-96 CSU Academic Senate instituted a series of studies of various aspects of this issue.
One portion of this study was to determine the extent and success of programs to provide new faculty orientation and follow-up mentoring programs. Inquiries were sent to the Academic Vice Presidents of each of the campuses, requesting that they be forwarded to the appropriate office for response. Replies were received from nearly every campus, and the names and addresses of those in charge of such programs are appended to this report.
There is essentially universal agreement that an orientation program for new faculty is needed, and widespread support for some sort of mentoring program to assist in their socialization during their first few terms on campus. There is far less unanimity on the form these programs do (and should) take, and virtually no data to indicate the success or failure of any of the programs currently in place.
This report summarizes the programs which are now being tried, with comments on the perceived success or failure of the various approaches, and makes recommendations of programs which seem to be particularly promising.
NEW FACULTY ORIENTATION
New faculty orientation programs currently in use in the CSU fall into two categories: one-day, or extended programs.
One-day programs. By far the most common new faculty orientation is the half-day or one-day model. Typically, all newly hired faculty are invited to attend a session a few days before classes for the fall term are to begin. The usual pattern is for a brief greeting from the President or Provost and chair of the academic senate, followed by presentations from various offices on such topics as payroll procedures, details of the benefits package, grading policies and procedures, the library, and other campus activities. It may also include presentations from CFA and Associated Students. Depending on the length of the program, it often includes lunch, which allows new faculty a chance to meet each other, but provides for little interaction with existing faculty.
Reactions to one-day programs. Virtually everyone who commented indicated dissatisfaction with this approach. Attendance at such sessions is voluntary, so many new faculty do not receive even this minimal introduction to their new campus, and must rely on their own resources, or whatever informal aid they may receive from colleagues in their department.
While such programs briefly expose new faculty to a number of administrators and representatives of a number of offices they will need to deal with, they provide little or no opportunity to meet and interact with colleagues in other parts of the university and do little to foster the informal links that are so valuable to academic activities.
Probably more importantly, the barrage of spoken and written material received in a very short time is difficult to assimilate. Many of the new faculty are still in the process of moving into new housing, unpacking their professional materials, and preparing for a series of new classes due to begin within a few days. As a result, much of the written material is given low priority and is often either trashed or dumped in the bottom of a file cabinet to be found months or years later. An additional factor that should be considered is that none of the new faculty orientation programs as presently constituted provide any opportunity for the new faculty to meet and get to know established faculty from other parts of the campus.
Many campuses indicated that they have made, or are making, changes in their approach, and expressed a desire to hear about programs on other campuses which seemed to be more effective.
Extended programs. A few campuses have instituted orientation programs which extend over periods of several weeks, often continuing through the first term, and (apparently) in some cases throughout the entire year. Such programs are few in number as yet, making it difficult to generalize, but some patterns seem to be emerging. There is usually an initial reception for new faculty, with welcoming comments from the President or Provost, and discussion of a few items of immediate importance, such as completion of payroll documents and enrollment periods for health plans. This reception is held in an informal setting such as the Presidents residence or a faculty club, with refreshments served.
The initial gathering is followed by regularly scheduled workshops at intervals of every two or three weeks, dealing with various other topics of concern and interest to the new faculty. These workshops are scheduled in afternoons or evenings, allowing for leisurely discussion of each topic. This format allows for the new faculty members to request discussion of topics which have come to their attention in the course of the term.
Within the CSU, Fullerton and Sonoma are among the few which have extended programs. Outside of this system successful programs include those at the SUNY Oswego campus, and at the University of Colorado.
Reactions to extended programs. Since only a handful of campuses have instituted such programs, and all are of recent vintage, it is difficult to make any general statements about how they are perceived. However, most comments indicated generally greater satisfaction with these programs than with the one-day programs. A small sample of faculty who have recently taken part in each of these approaches echoed the sentiments of administrators in finding the extended programs much more valuable than the one-day program.
An indication of the importance being given to orientation programs is the number of campuses who have recently designated, or expanded the responsibilities of, individuals or offices charged with the responsibility of faculty development.
It is obvious that mentoring in the broad sense of the term, occurs for most new faculty. In most cases this is not the result of any formal structure, but rather results from the links of new or pre-existing friendships with other faculty members. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that the informal mentor will be able to provide accurate, useful, information. In addition, not all new faculty take advantage of such opportunities, or even have the opportunity to do so presented to them. Departments which have made few if any hires for extended periods often have no memory of the issues facing beginning faculty, and make no effort to assist their new colleagues. Such situations are all too common on many CSU campuses.
Formal mentoring programs are far less common than new faculty orientation. Some campuses have had mentoring programs in the past but have abandoned them, while other campuses have never had them, and existing programs take a wide variety of forms. The specific form of the mentoring reflects the goals of the program, some of which are noted below. It is significant that the CSU Institute for Teaching and Learning will be sponsoring a workshop on June 12-13, 1996, on mentoring entitled Enhancing Experiences of Junior Faculty, conducted by Bob Menges (Northwestern) and Ray Perry (Manitoba).
Orientation to campus. In some cases mentors are expected to provide guidance to the ins-and-outs of the local campuss formal and informal structure, provide introductions to people, and provide an informal sounding board and information source which is independent of the RTP process. In such cases mentors are often specifically chosen from outside the new faculty members department or college.
Disciplinary mentoring. Some programs, usually departmentally based, are for the specific purpose of aiding new faculty in the RTP process. Guidance in the sorts of activities that are likely to be rewarded, such as appropriate outlets for research papers and particularly important campus committees, is valuable information for any new faculty. Some departments have formalized the process by designating mentors from within their own department for new faculty. In other cases this is done at the school or college level.
Specialized categories. On at least one campus, mentoring is provided to new women faculty by the Women Faculty Association, and similar programs would probably prove of benefit to other populations as our faculty becomes more diverse, incorporating individuals who may face specific issues as a result of ethnicity, gender, or other factors.
Peer Coaching. Peer coaching is a voluntary process in which two faculty members observe each others classroom teaching and confer afterwards on teaching strategies. Peer coaching is not usually thought of when discussing mentoring, but it is in fact one of the best examples of how mentoring can benefit both partners in the process. While it need not involve new faculty, peer coaching could easily be part of a broader mentoring program for new faculty. Several CSU campuses already have, or are instituting, peer coaching programs.
There is broad recognition that the retention of high quality faculty requires a variety of programs that assist new faculty in becoming socialized to their new work environment, that will aid them in improving their teaching, and will assist them in working through the RTP process. Mentoring programs, and especially new faculty orientation, are viewed as important parts of this process. However, there is also widespread dissatisfaction with both as they are currently practiced, as indicated by the recent changes that several campuses have made, and the recent creation or expansion of faculty development offices within the system.
Although we have no assessments of the success or failure of any of the approaches used, there is a consensus that one-day orientation programs are much less effective than those programs which extend over a period of several weeks or more.
It is also generally assumed that some form of mentoring is also highly desirable, and that this should have some formal structure to ensure that it is available to all new faculty. The specific form of the mentoring must depend on the goals of the particular program. Mentoring programs in the CSU are poorly developed, with a few exceptions. Most are not systematic, so the program is not available to all new faculty, and that those most in need of mentoring are probably not getting it.
It also became clear that there is no systematic orientation or mentoring for lecturers within the California State University system. While some departments have an enviable record of guiding their temporary and part-time faculty, most lecturers receive little if any assistance beyond some written materials relating to payroll and grading policies. Given that a significant proportion of instruction in the system is by lecturers, it is in our own best interest to see that these faculty are given appropriate help in giving the highest quality instruction to our students.
First, the Academic Senate CSU urge each campus of the CSU system to look carefully at its programs for new faculty orientation and to development of long-term orientation programs, extending over one or more terms. Such programs provide the opportunity for contact between new faculty and existing faculty from across the campus.
Second, the Academic Senate CSU urge the development of systematic mentoring programs. The form of the program will be largely dependent on the goals which must be developed on each campus. It is not unlikely that a campus could simultaneously have two or three different types of mentoring programs.
Third, the Academic Senate CSU urge each campus to consider development of orientation and mentoring programs for lecturers.
Fourth, the Academic Senate CSU urge campus senates and experienced faculty to become closely involved with these programs.
Fifth, the Academic Senate CSU urge that new faculty orientation programs and faculty mentoring programs should be housed within the Academic Affairs office, since these activities are so central to the retention and growth of a strong faculty.
To facilitate communication between campuses on these topics, those identified as being in charge of existing programs are listed below.
Dr. James George
Associate Vice President for
Dr. Marilyn Winzenz
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Jamie Webb, Director
Dr. Kathleen McEnerney, Coordinator
Associate Vice President for
Dr. Margaret Atwell
Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
Joseph Arnold, Acting Director,
Institute for the Advancement of
Teaching and Learning
Dr. Mary Cullinan, Director
Faculty Development Office
Dr. John P. Turner, Acting Dean
Research and Graduate Studies, and Faculty Development Coordinator
Dr. Gerald Hanley, Director
Center for Faculty Development
Dr. Marilyn Jensen
Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
Dr. Barbara Clark, Interim Director
Center for Effective Teaching
Mr. David Buchanan
Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
Dr. Armando Arias, Jr.
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Academic Planning, Instruction and Assessment
Dr. Elizabeth Berry
Director of Faculty Development
Dr. Carol Holder, Director
Faculty Center for Professional
Dr. Debra Lelewer
Interim Associate Vice President for
Sheila Orman, Director
Faculty and Staff Affairs
Dr. Dean Popp
Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs
Dr. Vicki Casella, Director
Center for the Enhancement of Teaching
Associate Vice President, Faculty Affairs
San Luis Obispo:
Vicki Golich, Director
Faculty Development Center
Dr. Tom Nolan, Director
Center for Teaching and Professional Development
Dr. Donald Bowers
Associate Vice President for Academic Resources