The original Mentor was an aged advisor in The Odyssey. The guidance that Mentor provided to his young ward, Telemachus, was apparently so superb that in the seventeenth century his name became synonymous with sage counsel. Examples of famous mentoring relationships abound: Haydn mentored Beethoven, Freud mentored Jung, Ezra Pound mentored T.S. Eliot, and Lawren Harris mentored Emily Carr. But even among ordinary folk, mentoring relationships are both prevalent and significant. For example, my approach to studying literature was fundamentally transformed by my PhD supervisor, James Carscallen. And from my dog, Farley (who died in October at the age of fourteen), I learned a tremendous amount about loyalty, friendship, and forgiveness.
New faculty members are one group in particular who can benefit from mentoring relationships. The demands that are suddenly placed upon them, after being hired to a university, are numerous and sometimes unfamiliar. Accordingly, developing not just one mentoring relationship with a more experienced colleague, but a mentoring network with a variety of colleagues, peers, and near peers, can be invaluable. A cluster of mentors can provide not just advice about teaching, research, and service, but can also offer affirmation and encouragement when it’s most needed.
Like all relationships, though, that of the mentor and mentee can go sour if it’s not nurtured and handled with care. To this end, CTE has recently developed a Tip Sheet about Faculty Mentoring, available here. Have a look, and if it’s useful, or if you know of any other resources to include in it, let us know. All of our Tip Sheets are living documents, and we welcome feedback and suggestions.
One more thing: the theme of this year’s Loving to Learn Day is mentoring. If you’d like to write and submit a paragraph about one of your mentors, you could win a book prize. The deadline if February 14, and details are here.