Key Considerations for Units

Below are key factors to consider when establishing a mentoring program, followed by six essential steps to follow to create a robust mentoring program. 

The Program

  • The program should incorporate four benchmarks that reflect the mission of the university and unit:
    1. exemplify diversity and civility.
    2. provide a welcoming and inclusive environment.
    3. be informed by best practices in mentoring.
    4. provide access to disciplinary and unit specific information.
  • Program coordination is a necessary component to ensure:
    1. that the mentor and mentee meet, and
    2. that the mentoring relationship is working for both participants.
  • Consider having (at a minimum) two opportunities during the year to check in separately with the mentor and mentee to assess the mentoring fit.
  • Programs should be flexible to accommodate different types of mentoring supports for mentees (e.g., relationship-based, career-focused, project-based, skill-based, etc.) and with different mentoring programs and resources (within the unit or outside the unit)
  • The program should be designed to accommodate time and scheduling needs of the mentors/mentees
  • The program should be inclusive of the needs of faculty of different ranks and appointment types (e.g., early-career faculty, mid-career/late-career, administrative, academic)
  • The program should be inclusive of the needs of underrepresented faculty, particularly faculty having different characteristics across race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and should facilitate mentoring pairings/groups that are reflective of these characteristics if requested.
  • The programs should acknowledge safe spaces for faculty to convene for mentoring meetings and events on campus (e.g., conference rooms, dining areas, Faculty Center lounge, classrooms, etc.)
  • Some mentoring programs are designed to contribute to specific departmental goals. Consider whether the program you’re seeking to establish should benefit a unit process or goal.
  • Consideration should also be given to the unit’s culture and history. The selection of mentoring tools and strategies should complement the unit’s culture.
  • All programs should include recognition of faculty mentors and mentees
    1. For mentees, evidence of participation can include a letter or certificate
    2. For mentors, evidence of participation can include a letter or certificate to be included in mid-tenure/mid-promotion review or tenure and/or promotion review; Depending on the mentor’s workload, other gestures include a physical award, course release, or stipend.
  • Mentorship responsibilities should be recognized within unit tenure and/or promotion standards and guidelines as a service role equivalent to chairing a department committee. Samples of evidence of the mentor’s impact can include, but is not limited to, outcomes in the classroom (e.g., syllabus or curriculum updates) or scholarship achievements (e.g., co-authorship on publications, technology advancements).

Cooperation with University-Level Mentoring Programs

  • Programs should leverage university-level mentoring programs and resources by encouraging unit faculty to participate in campus programs when appropriate and available.
  • Units establishing mentoring programs that will operate at the university-level (i.e., providing services and resources to large-groups of faculty across campus) should elect a representative to serve on the Campus Mentoring Programs Coordination Task Force to ensure that developed programming is distinct and does not duplicate other university-level mentoring events and programs. To join the task force, send an email to
  • Units establishing university-level programming should include their meetings and events on the campus mentoring calendar maintained by the Office of Faculty Affairs. Contact to submit your meetings and events to the campus mentoring calendar.

The Participants

  • Consideration should be given to the number of participants, their rank, appointment type (i.e., academic, administrative, tenure-track, nontenure-track) and disciplinary field, if applicable. How many faculty are expected to participate each year? Are there enough mentors to accommodate the demand of mentees?
  • Create opportunities for all types of faculty to serve in mentor roles (i.e., administrative faculty, lecturers, faculty-in-residence, and assistant, associate, or full professors).
  • Identify experts in different areas of expertise - teaching, scholarship, service, profession - that are within-unit experts/volunteers as well as cross-unit experts/volunteers.

Other Mentoring Resources

Six Essential Steps to Create a Mentoring Program

The list below is provided as a guide for individuals (or teams) responsible for planning and creating a mentoring program for their unit.

  1. Define goals. Describe in 1-3 goals what the program should achieve.
  2. Identify who the program serves. Identify who will be mentored and determine qualifications/criteria for selecting mentors (i.e., specialty, within the unit or outside the unit, rank, academic or administrative, required or not).
  3. Identify services provided. Discuss the areas of assistance provided by the program (i.e., clarification about tenure/promotion processes, strengthening teaching skills, building research capabilities, personal development, etc.) Below is a baseline of topics for mentoring administrative and academic faculty; it clarifies topics that are the responsibility of the unit and topics that are the responsibility of mentors:
    1. Academic faculty:
      1. Unit Responsibility: local orientation and onboarding, clarification about tenure/promotion processes and standards, bylaws (e.g., NSHE Code, university, college, unit), disciplinary expectations, scholarship and research, and class management (in-person and online courses, technology).
      2. Mentor Responsibility: strengthening teaching skills, diverse student learning, student conduct, building scholarship and research capabilities, service, navigating the university, orientation to unit culture and processes, disciplinary expectations, career development, faculty advocacy (for specific areas only), and providing a safe space to share concerns, fears, and challenges.
    2. Administrative faculty:
      1. Unit Responsibility: local orientation and onboarding, NSHE code and university bylaws, job expectations, and unit history, mission, and goals.
      2. Mentor Responsibility: navigating the university, orientation to unit culture and processes, career development, faculty advocacy (for specific areas only), and providing a safe space to share concerns, fears, and challenges
  4. Determine program format. Decide on the program format: one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring, dual-mentor, by specialty, or a blended model. Note that the dual-mentor and group mentoring models reduce the workload placed on mentors.
  5. Discuss any required program activities. Decide if the program will have required activities such as a kickoff meeting between mentors and mentees or other structured mentor/mentee or group activities to monitor progress and create community.
  6. Determine operational practices.
    1. For program duration, identify when the mentor relationship starts and stops.
    2. For recruitment, discuss who the target audience is and how to market and promote the program.
    3. In regard to the mentoring relationship, determine how mentees and mentors are paired; establish rules about confidentiality; determine what type of recognition should be used to acknowledge mentor and mentee participation.
    4. For mentees, determine if participation is required (or optional).
    5. To assess the mentoring relationship, establish check ins to monitor the satisfaction of participants.
    6. To assess the mentoring program, consider a formal survey, interviews, or focus groups to learn if participants were satisfied with the program, if needs were being met, what benefits occurred, the frequency of meetings, and any perceived impact.

Source: Kiel, D. (2019).Developing faculty mentoring programs: a comprehensive handbook,. Academic Impressions, Denver, CO.

Examples of the Duties/Responsibilities of Mentors and Mentees

The duties/responsibilities of mentors and mentees can vary. Below are examples of the types of responsibilities these two roles can assume. Faculty should not feel obligated to honor every item listed, nor is the list exhaustive; it’s important to consider your role within the mentoring program and define responsibilities that align accordingly.

Role of the Faculty Mentor

  • Participates in mentorship activities, such as meeting the mentee(s) at initial orientation.
  • Reaches out to mentees to ensure the development and maintenance of relationships.
  • Makes time for, initiates, and holds meetings with the mentee(s), as needed. Meetings may be weekly in the beginning, then decreased as needed.
  • Mentors will keep track of the time spent with mentees.
  • Provides opportunities for discussion and reflection on careers and the mentor/mentee relationship.
  • Reviews specific short- and long-term goals with the mentee(s) and monitors progress toward these goals.
  • Provides guidance, information, and feedback relative to the topics listed above in item #3: Identify Services Provided (see 6 Essential Steps to Create a Mentoring Program)
  • Maintains strict confidentiality.
  • Helps mentee(s) to set priorities, manage time, and make wise choices among options and opportunities.
  • Offers guidance on boundary setting (when and how to say “no”).
  • Provides counsel and strategies for working within a team framework.
  • Works with the mentorship team, meeting with them annually or as needed.
  • Establishes the agendas for the mentorship collaborative team meetings together with the mentee(s).
  • Reviews progress and helps facilitate the mentee's success in meeting the established and agreed upon goals.
  • Understands the needs of the mentee and is respectful of those needs by providing support that addresses the mentee’s needs

Role of Faculty Mentee

  • Takes full responsibility for their career.
  • Participates in mentorship activities, such as orientation, training programs and evaluation.
  • Reaches out to the mentor and ensures the development and maintenance of their relationship.
  • Remains open to the need for mentorship in certain areas.
  • Sets short- and long-term goals and provides mentors with progress reports.
  • Makes time for, initiates, and holds regular meetings with the mentor.
  • Meets with the Department Chair/Director/Supervisor at least once per semester to review progress and to resolve issues for the first year.
  • Makes themselves familiar with unit and University criteria, policies, and procedures regarding career transitions (i.e., reappointments, promotions, and tenure).
  • Makes themselves familiar with the unit’s mission and strategic plans.
  • Continues to increase the knowledge base associated with the duties of the position.
  • Strives for academic excellence in their respective field of expertise and gives documented evidence of productivity
  • Maintains strict confidentiality.

Source: College of Nursing Mentoring Program. 2012.The University of Illinois at Chicago, IL. Retrieved from: