OF NEW COLLEGE FACULTY:
MENTORING AND BEYOND
Organizations only survive
if they can successfully integrate new members, over time. History is
full of lost organizations, unable to recruit and retain new members.
The first political parties of the United States no longer exist, replaced
by the Democratic and Republican parties. Numerous religions and ideologies
have come and gone. The successful recruitment and integration of new
members brings essential rejuvenation to organizations, just as the shedding
of old cells and creation of new cells is necessary for the life of an
For organizations to be successful at their task of integrating new members,
deliberate effort must be exerted. Religious organizations actively evangelize
for new members, and create rituals and steps for entry into the religious
society. Political organizations are similarly evangelical in spreading
their messages, registering voters and recruiting volunteers. The purpose
of this paper is to discover how organizations of higher education can
ensure their longevity by developing new professional entrants into full-fledged
and active members of the community. How are new faculty members socialized
into institutions of higher education?
What is Socialization?
In order to determine the path to socialization, it is important to first
decide what socialization means. Some scholars have defined socialization
as the "lifelong process whereby an individual becomes a participating
member of a group of professionals, whose norms and culture the individual
internalizes" (Bogler & Kremer-Hayon, 1999) Similarly, Austin
(2002) defined socialization as "a process through which an individual
becomes part of a group, organization, or community." Trowler and
Knight (1999) add that socialization is an "accommodative process
which takes place when new entrants to an organization engage with aspects
of the cultural configurations they find there." In other words,
socialization requires individuals to change according to the norms, expectations,
and needs of their new organizations.
Socialization, quite simply, is the process by which someone is transformed
from being an outsider to an insider. In religion, socialization takes
place partly though rituals, such as baptism, and education, such as catechism.
In the military, socialization partially occurs during boot camp, where
the traditions, disciplines and values of military life are indoctrinated
into recruits. How do institutions of higher education bring new faculty
members into the fold?
Bogler and Kremer-Hayon (1999) believe that socialization helps faculty
feel personally invested into the department and institution in which
they work. The process of socialization, according to Bogler and Kremer-Hayon,
involves three steps: "exploration," "giving up the previous
role" and accommodating the new role. The exploration phase occurs
in graduate school and during job searches, as potential faculty members
decide what careers and institutions are right for each of them. As faculty
transition into their new role, they must let go of their old role. Finally,
the new faculty learn to fit within the new role. Cawyer and Friedrich
(1998) point out, however, that accommodation is not absolute. There is
a certain degree of negotiation that occurs during socialization as the
new faculty work out their roles with their institutions. Because vibrant
human institutions are always losing and gaining members, there is always
some change occurring. When old members leave, they may take certain ideas
and traditions with them. When new members join, they bring new ideas
and traditions to their new departments and institutions.
Socialization in higher education begins prior to new faculty members
joining certain institutions. Because faculty members must undergo specific
training for entry into the profession, and that training is performed
by people already in the profession, socialization begins during training,
especially graduate school.
Austin (2002) believes that from the beginning of graduate school, students
considering careers in academia ask themselves four questions. The most
basic question is, "can I do this?" Second and third, students
must continually resolve the questions, "do I want to be a graduate
student" and "do I want to do this work?" Finally, if a
student determines he or she is capable and willing, the student's final
question is, "do I belong here?" The student asks whether or
not the field of academics is a good fit. According to Austin, most graduate
students who plan on entering academic work are seeking personally fulfilling
careers and are also open to the idea of working outside academia, at
least for part of their careers. Graduate school serves as a time of self-discovery
and career confirmation.
Students who answer those four questions affirmatively continue through
the socialization process of graduate school. Those students continue
to learn and develop into academics. They begin to learn what is expected
of faculty members, the various roles faculty fill, and how to work within
Unfortunately, many graduate students finish school feeling unprepared
for the basics of their profession. Austin (2002) performed qualitative
research of 79 doctoral students, at research universities, who planned
to enter faculty careers. Through her research, she discovered that students
left graduate school feeling unprepared for their roles in student advising
and service. While their doctoral training prepared them for the specifics
of research, they felt isolated and unprepared for writing research proposals.
Further, students felt incompetent at one of the most basic tasks of faculty,
Austin made a list of suggestions she believes are essential for graduate
education that truly prepares students for their careers. Students must
be directed and given time to develop teaching effectiveness. Graduate
students need to be guided through times of reflection, during which they
can digest what they are learning about the profession. Perhaps group
programs could be developed in conjunction with university counseling
In his survey of 187 doctoral students, Golde (1997, November) found that
whereas almost all doctoral students feel capable of conducting research,
less than one-third feel competent in committee work or advising undergraduates.
Golde and Austin both believe that students need help understanding and
preparing for the variety of roles they will fill as faculty.
As a result of research into the deficiencies of graduate school preparation,
some research universities have begun to revamp their doctoral programs.
Universities, such as Brown and Emory, have collaborated with nearby colleges
to introduce doctoral students to the missions and environments of other
school types (Gaff & Lambert, 1996). Many graduate students are conscious
of their need for further development and want opportunities to grow.
When Arizona State University created a program to prepare PhD students
for the roles of the professorate, the dean funded 25 spaces, expecting
less than 10 students to apply. Instead, the dean received 60 applications
for this distinctive program (Gaff & Lambert, 1996).
After participating in the Professional Responsibilities of College Teachers
project, Duke University has made some changes. The project, designed
to help understand the needs of doctoral students, brought to light some
deficiencies in Duke's programs. Duke University is reevaluating the entire
doctoral experience to see whether traditional programs actually meet
the needs of the students and their future careers. At Duke, history and
psychology students who participated in the project actually pressured
their departments to institute programs to teach discipline-specific pedagogical
methods and allow ABD students to teach senior seminars. Those opportunities
were not available prior to the project. Many faculty actually rejected
any interests PhD students showed in developing teaching competency, and
not merely research competency. Interdisciplinary study options are another
example of how the programs have changed in recent years to address the
interests of students and changing needs of the employment market (DeNeef,
The experiences of Duke and other schools, have led to major implications.
The researchers conducting the Preparing Future Faculty program of the
Association of American Colleges and Universities came to several conclusions.
Graduate programs should allow students to develop teaching competencies,
and experience in campus service. Students should learn how universities
operate at an administrative level. Mentoring should be part of the graduate
school experience. Graduate students preparing for the professorate should
be exposed to the varying types of educational institutions that exist,
such as liberal arts and community colleges, as well as comprehensive
and research universities. Finally, graduate students should become acquainted
with the use of educational technology, educational and developmental
psychology, and participative learning strategies (Gaff & Lambert,
The Need for Continued Socialization in the Profession
Socialization does not end with graduate school. The confirmation of a
doctoral degree, along with being hired by a college or university, does
not, by itself, make one a participating member of the scholarly community.
The present retirement boom in higher education, which will continue for
several more years, makes efficient and effective integration of new faculty
especially important. The professional community, including individual
institutions, cannot afford to lose bright new faculty because of poor
socialization. Effective hiring and socialization practices are essential
for the continued strength of higher educational institutions (Trowler
& Knight, 1999; Austin, 2002). It has been shown that quality socialization
increases faculty retention (Johnson, 2001).
Because many new faculty members left graduate school without fully understanding
faculty roles and responsibilities, the hiring institutions must help
new faculty continue to develop. In addition, each institution has a unique
culture to which new faculty must acclimate. Various institutions have
devised unique ways to assist in the acclimation. All new faculty members
at Southeast Missouri State University spend one week in workshops to
develop teaching effectiveness. New faculty at the University of Oklahoma
can choose to participate in a one semester orientation program. Participants
meet weekly for lunch and a 75 minute workshop. New faculty orientation
at the University of Texas at Austin even includes an orientation to life
in Texas. Temple University has developed a mentoring program, which pairs
new faculty with emeritus faculty known for excellent teaching (Sorcinelli,
The new life of faculty brings many challenges. There is conflict between
the desire to do important research, that can take significant time, and
the desire to get a satisfactory number of publications quickly. A faculty
member stated, "They want me to get published in journals that have
low acceptance rates, so that says to me, play it safe." Commenting
about his desire to be a better teacher and the availability of the center
for teaching at his university, another professor commented, "After
tenure, I'll probably go there. I don't have time now." Competition
for tenure made some new faculty feel forced to give up vacation time
with families, spend long nights at their offices, and otherwise over-commit
themselves (Tierney, 1997). Such stresses can result in loss of faculty
productivity, reduced commitment to the organizational mission, increased
faculty turnover, and other negative consequences. Proper socialization
may alleviate some of those problems by helping new faculty come to terms
with competing interests, and disillusionment. Getting to know the institution,
its people, and the individual's role should help resolve tensions, or
at least make them bearable.
Bogler and Kremer-Hayon (1999) found disillusionment to be a significant
problem among new faculty. "I am torn between the need to publish
the need to be a good teacher
. You have to decide where to invest
your energy," one faculty member said. New faculty also reported
believing that administrators held unrealistic expectations for new faculty
members' research productivity. According to Bogler and Kremer-Hayon,
part of socialization is helping new faculty give up idealistic images
of scholar-teachers in favor of a pragmatic emphasis on research.
In addition to the standard assimilation faculty have undergone for decades,
the roles of faculty are changing. According to Austin (2002), new faculty
members are expected to have a more diverse range of skills than older
generations. Many institutions are creating online courses. However, graduate
students may not be prepared for this expectation. Having just come out
of graduate school, many new faculty also might not be used to dealing
with unmotivated students. New faculty are often at a loss for ways to
deal with disruptive or nonparticipative students (Sorcinelli, 1994).
New faculty are in need of socialization, so they can learn what the expectations
are, and how to meet those expectations.
Unfortunately, because many schools do not make a concerted effort to
socialize new faculty, the tensions of new faculty actually increase during
the pre-tenure years. Whereas one-third of first year faculty considered
their jobs "very stressful," nearly three-quarters of fifth
year professors thought so (Sorcinelli, 1994). According to Sorcinelli,
factors affecting faculty stress include heavy research expectations,
poor or undeveloped relationships with colleagues, lack of communication
from supervisors, and problems balancing their professional and personal
Mentoring Relationships for New Faculty
Socialization programs must have goals and outcomes which the programs
attempt to meet. It is important that institutional leaders developing
programs understand the needs of new faculty. What issues cause new faculty
to struggle? What unique characteristics does the new faculty member's
school have that it is important for faculty to know about? Sorcinelli
found that many new faculty would like to participate in mentoring relationships.
Cawyer, Simonds and Davis (2002) found that interest in mentoring relationships
actually increases between the first and third years of a new faculty
In their study of mentoring programs, Boyle and Boice (1998) learned that
the most common topics discussed in mentoring meetings were research and
publishing, followed by teaching. Tenure and office/campus politics were
frequently discussed. Obviously, these issues are of concern to new faculty.
Understanding the tenure process is especially troublesome for many new
Describing his confusion over the tenure process, one faculty member lamented,
"I have twenty articles in refereed journals, but people keep telling
me I need a book. The dean wants a book" (Tierney, 1997). One new
faculty member complained about simple difficulties in adjusting. "No
one could tell me how to put material on reserve at the library for my
class" (Cawyer, Simonds & Davis, 2002). Unfortunately, Austin
found that administrators often expect new faculty to "hit the ground
running" with little support from anyone else in the institution.
New faculty often report that the expectations administrators have for
them are "vague, ambiguous, changing, or unrealistic." As a
result, new faculty often feel isolated, uninspired, and unsupported.
Graduate school, according to many new faculty, did not prepare them for
everyday professional requirements, such as student advising, working
on thesis committees, sponsoring student clubs, or balancing the conflicting
pressures of research and teaching (Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998; Gaff
& Lambert, 1996). While in graduate school, students have a peer social
network to help them negotiate their new roles (Austin, 2002). Cawyer
& Friedrich (1998) stated, "graduate teaching assistants tend
to be socialized as a group." "The crucible of graduate school
tends to create bonds among the group." Conversely, new faculty are
usually isolated in their newness.
Mentors can help newcomers learn organizational culture and expectations
(Cawyer, Simonds & Davis, 2002). However, mentoring relationships
must be well-developed for them to serve their purposes well. Because
mentoring programs have been popular at some institutions, a considerable
amount has been learned about good mentoring.
Because the purpose of mentoring is strong socialization, the first step
to developing a mentoring program is to understand what constitutes good
socialization. Trowler and Knight (1999) summarized the socialization
Good socialization processes will use:
1) collective socialization methods,
bringing together all new entrants
2) "formal" systems, including
"sequential events," for socialization
3) designated mentors to act as
the official spokesperson for the organization,
"noise" from other sources
Good socialization processes will teach:
1) the formal structure of the organization
2) the role of the particular individual
university in the higher education world
3) institutional values
How many of those points can
be met with mentoring? Positive mentoring relationships can provide a
means of meeting many of those socialization outcomes.
Because of the personal nature of mentoring, the mentor and the new faculty
member must be able to build a relationship of trust. In addition, the
entire program must be promoted in a positive fashion. In their study
of mentoring, Boyle and Boice (1998) determined that women and minorities,
for fear of being labeled as in need of help, are often reluctant to take
advantage of development programs, including mentoring. Also, there is
concern among those being mentored by superiors that self-disclosure could
be harmful in the future. If a new faculty member were to reveal feelings
of inadequacy, for example, to a senior faculty member, would that senior
faculty member use that knowledge against the new faculty member during
tenure review? To alleviate this, it is sometimes best to pair mentors
with new faculty who are in other departments, or who the mentors will
not have power over. Another challenge in creating faculty development
programs is keeping faculty from viewing the lessons as "remedial"
Boyle and Boice (1998) discovered several factors that led to quality
mentoring relationships. The best mentors had "three to five years
of experience on campus" and were generally happy with their departments
and schools. Successful mentors were those with the interpersonal skills
to foster personal relationships with new faculty. Also, mentoring relationships
that were officially established through an organizational program worked
better than relationships that occurred without intervention. Surprisingly,
it did not appear to be important that the mentor and new faculty member
actually be matched according to personalities. An important note is that
in organizations that encourage innovation, it is important that the new
faculty member not be someone who may be seen as a future successor to
the mentor. If the mentor views the new faculty member as a successor,
the mentor may place extra effort into indoctrinating the newcomer into
the mentor's mindset, thereby ensuring a continuation of the mentor's
ways (Boyer, 1990).
Mentoring relationships should operate with regularly scheduled meetings
(Austin, 2002). Nearly one-third of mentoring relationships seemed to
run out of important topics to discuss within a few months of being paired.
Relationships that persevered past the early stage of running out of topics,
usually persevered by using small talk. Those relationships ended up being
the most successful and rewarding (Boyle & Boice 1998).
Cawyer, Simonds and Davis (2002) found certain factors important for mentoring.
It is important that a mentor affirm the role and potential contribution
of the new faculty member. New members' credentials can be promoted, as
well as their apparent fit into the organizations. There can be multiple
mentors, both official and unofficial, filling unique and individual roles.
There could be professional mentors, "social mentors," and a
"convenient mentor," who is usually available for "day-to-day
questions." One obstacle for official mentor relationships is for
the parties to find time when they are both available to meet. Since faculty
members have varied class times, office hours, and routines, meeting can
sometimes be problematic. One new member stated, "My mentor and I
have competing schedules. We seem to have trouble getting together."
An obstacle for mentoring relationships can be something as simple as
the proximity of their offices.
Of course, mentoring occurs in both formal and informal settings. Some
information is passed on informally during brief meetings with senior
faculty. One faculty member claimed to receive important information "at
lunch or when [other faculty] saw me in the hall." Another faculty
member reported gaining valuable information "in passing," during
conversations about other topics (Johnson, 2001). Even though mentoring
can be achieved informally and spontaneously, there are significant benefits
for institutions that have formal programs.
There is a psychological let-down between the time of being hired and
the date of arrival at work (Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998). In addition,
loneliness is a common factor for both new and senior faculty (Bogler
& Kremer-Hayon, 1999). Mentoring may help avoid some of the psychological
pitfalls that often accompany academic work.
There are certain fragments of information that are essential for faculty
to grasp. It is essential for new faculty to understand and appreciate
in what order of importance their institutions place the roles of teaching,
research, and service (Johnson & Harvey, 2002). "Faculty success"
requires understanding the "missions, student bodies, and faculty
roles" their institutions expect (Tice and Gaff, 1998). Plus, because
of the complexity of academic careers, there is information that simply
cannot be relayed in brief periods of time. Faculty feel that their job
interviews neglected issues related to learning about the local community
and the tenure review process. New faculty feel that little information
is provided on university and department resources, "such as equipment
and travel funds," available to faculty (Cawyer & Friedrich,
1998). Other faculty may have difficulty adjusting because of previous
socializations. Education faculty with K-12 teaching experience reported
difficulty internalizing the importance of publishing (Bogler & Kremer-Hayon,
1999). Johnson (2002) found that mentoring helped faculty discover "who's
who on campus." One new faculty member said that a mentor could "introduce
you to people that you should meet."
Mentoring programs also have the potential for significant benefits to
the institution. At the end of the mentoring program, the mentors actually
reported more gains from the relationships than did the newcomers. In
graduate school mentoring relationships, student retention increases when
faculty include students as research partners (Boyle & Boice, 1998).
Could faculty retention increase if senior faculty would include junior
faculty in research? If so, mentoring could increase faculty retention
and productivity at the same time. Mentoring works because it relies on
the fact that humans are inherently social creatures. Socialization systems
must appreciate the human need for relationships (Trowler & Knight,
Other Methods of Socialization
New faculty members experience a variety of stresses, especially related
to obtaining continued appointments and eventual tenure. Sorcinelli (1994)
found that fear of performing poorly at teaching made new faculty exceedingly
cautious in their teaching. She suggested that new professors should be
given two years to adjust, during which time their teaching is not evaluated.
In studying new faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs), Johnson and Harvey (2002) found that faculty are facilitated
by "clear institutional values and expectations." At one HBCU,
a faculty member was even told how many publications were expected for
tenure. "Somewhere between six and nine, a minimum of at least six,"
the faculty member said. HBCU faculty handbooks helped new faculty understand
the tenure process. Johnson and Harvey examined the faculty handbooks
of four HBCUs, and each explained the tenure review process, including
what performances were to be evaluated. Most HBCU faculty reported they
felt comfortable with their understanding of the tenure process. New HBCU
faculty also reported that regular, periodic meetings with department
chairs or other administrators were important contributors to their success.
These meetings allowed the administrators to perform early evaluations
of the faculty and provide feedback about what was going well and what
needed improvement. In another study by Johnson (2002), she found that
faculty appreciated learning early about institutional expectations for
performance. Additionally, faculty at HBCUs were successful at supporting
each other. Regrettably, faculty at urban campuses were less able to build
strong social relationships because many faculty members lived long distances
To facilitate socialization and increase comfort for all members of the
organization, administrators should promote an "open-door" policy
to new faculty. Further, administrators should create social functions
where new and senior faculty can mingle. New faculty also appreciate being
invited to events and get-togethers by other faculty. However, it is important
for new faculty to make sure they take personal responsibility for developing
relationships with others (Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998).
Socialization for potential and new college faculty is essential to the
growth and strength of higher education. During these times when the government,
the public, parents, and students all expect more from their higher education
institutions, colleges and universities must be especially vigilant at
effective use of resources. The human resource of faculty cannot be neglected.
Mentoring, both during graduate school, and in the pre-tenure years of
the profession, may be an excellent method of developing faculty. Considerable
research has been completed, providing knowledge for higher education
administrators seeking more efficient and effective socialization. However,
it is also clear that mentoring is not a simple panacea that will solve
Graduate education, especially PhD programs, must be intentionally designed
to foster and develop skills and knowledge necessary for the professorate.
As a research degree, the PhD must maintain its focus on building research
competencies. However, because the PhD is the credential that leads to
employment as faculty, there must also be conscious effort to produce
PhDs capable of the work the professorate requires. Professorate preparation
programs, as minors or tracks within PhD programs, may be an excellent
pathway. Research universities that have implemented such programs appear
to be having success (Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998).
When new PhDs and EdDs enter the professorate, they must also be willing
to take personal responsibility for their development. Whether or not
their institutions offer formalized mentoring programs, new faculty should
seek out mentoring relationships. New faculty should work to develop relationships
with key faculty and administrators.
It will be through the collective efforts of graduate schools, employers,
and individuals that proper socialization occurs. Imagine a day when new
faculty emerge from graduate schools experienced in research, teaching,
and service leadership. Imagine new faculty entering institutions to find
waiting friends and mentors, actively seeking ways to help their new colleagues.
Imagine new professors reaching out to those with more experience, looking
to build upon the learning curve centuries of higher education has provided.
A day such as that imagined would be a wonderful day, and it does not
have to be that far away.
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