Faculty and Staff Resources

Information for Mentors

Responsibilities as a Mentor

  • Familiarization with the Department, the Faculty of Science, the University and its academic environment
  • Advise the new faculty member of teaching, research and service responsibilities or provide direction to the appropriate source of this information
  • Set priorities - budgeting time, setting up a lab, publications, teaching, service (including committees)
  • Network - introduction to colleagues, identification of other possible mentors
  • Identify sources of research funds and provide support in application writing
  • Deal with difficulties - lab space, access to students, student complaints
  • Provide advice on dealing with academic offences
  • Provide advice and critical review of teaching and research
  • Confidentiality - The mentor should treat all dealings and discussions in confidence. There is no requirement to report to the administration. The mentor has no role as an evaluator or assessor of the new faculty member. The role is one of supportive guidance and constructive criticism.

Qualities of a "Good" Mentor

  • Availability - The mentor must be available to and keep in contact with the new faculty member He/she must also be prepared to spend time discussing University affairs, reading proposals and papers, and reviewing the new faculty member's progress
  • Networking - The mentor should be in a position to help establish a professional network for the new faculty member
  • Support - The mentor should be prepared to defend the new faculty member (e.g. space, students, funds etc.)
  • The mentor should treat all dealings and discussions in confidence, providing supportive guidance and constructive criticism (

Three Year Goals

Mentors are usually appointed for three years, allowing interaction up to the time of the new faculty member's three-year probationary review. In that time, you are encouraged to:

  • Establish a good professional profile
  • Understand the criteria for promotion and tenure, and be aware of the expectations in various categories (teaching, research and graduate supervision, service)
  • Have a viable plan for the future

Typical Issues

These issues are typical, but not inclusive, of what should be considered by the new faculty member and the mentor. The issues extend over a broad range of expertise, and advice will often be required from other University sources.

  • How does one establish an appropriate balance between teaching, research, and service? How does one say "no"?
  • What funds are available from the Department/Faculty/University? Start-up funds, graduate scholarships, travel/conference, small equipment funds, etc.
  • How is the Department organized? How are decisions made? What infrastructure is available to the new faculty member?
  • What should one's professional profile look like after three years?
  • What criteria are used for teaching excellence? How is teaching evaluated? What is a teaching dossier?
  • What are the grading guidelines for courses?
  • How does one obtain feedback concerning teaching?
  • What resources are available for teaching enhancement?
  • How does one attract graduate students?
  • What should graduate students expect from their supervisor?
  • What teaching assistantships are available? What should be done about TA training?
  • What are the Health and Safety implications to running a laboratory?
  • What committees should one be on? How much committee work should one expect? What other service contributions/commitments are advisable?
  • How does the three-year probationary review proceed? How is tenure achieved?
  • What should be included in the annual report?
  • Will there be feedback about performance from the Chair, if so how often?
  • What social events occur in the department? What seminars/workshops?
  • What are the policies concerning maternity, family and/or personal leaves?