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Mentoring New Faculty: What Works And What Does Not Work

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Faculty Development Toolkit

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.925.1 - 11.925.11



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Paper Authors


William Jordan Baylor University

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WILLIAM JORDAN is Professor and Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He has an M.A. degree in Theology from Denver Seminary. His Ph.D. was in mechanics and materials engineering from Texas A & M University. He teaches materials oriented courses and his main research area deals with the mechanical behavior of composite materials. He also writes and does research in the areas of engineering ethics and engineering education. He is a registered metallurgical engineer in the state of Louisiana.

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Bill Elmore Mississippi State University

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BILL ELMORE, Ph.D., P.E., is Associate Professor and Hunter Henry Chair, Mississippi State University. His teaching areas include the integrated freshman engineering and courses throughout the chemical engineering curriculum including unit operations laboratories and reactor design. His current research activities include engineering educational reform, enzyme-based catalytic reactions in micro-scale reactor systems, and bioengineering applied to renewable fuels and chemicals.

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Walter Bradley Baylor University

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WALTER BRADLEY is a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. He has a B.S. in Engineering Science and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Texas (Austin). He taught for eight years in Metallurgical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and twenty-four years in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University before assuming his current position at Baylor University in 2002. He teaches and researches in fracture mechanics, failure analysis and life prediction in metals, polymers and composites. Recently he has begun to work in appropriate technology for developing countries.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Mentoring New Faculty: What Works and What Does not Work


The world of academia has a unique set of challenges to the new faculty member. This is true even if the person just graduated with a Ph.D. since professors face many challenges that are not faced by a graduate student.

There are several different ways mentoring can be done. One way is to have the direct supervisor of the professor also serve as his mentor. While this has some merit, a new professor may be reluctant to share issues or struggles with a supervisor. A second and often more effective way is to have mentoring from a more senior professor who is not the new person’s direct supervisor. In this way the new professor can be very honest in sharing challenges because the comments will not in any way be used in yearly evaluations. A third way is to have mentoring done on a spontaneous basis as the occasion presents itself. While many good things can come of this, we do not believe it is adequate to rely on such informal situations as the sole basis of mentoring. A fourth mentoring method is an organized program where more experienced faculty members make presentations about various aspects of faculty life. This is often done in group settings with perhaps all of the university’s new faculty members in one group. This can be valuable in conveying useful information (such as how to use the library and the approval process for research proposals), but is less useful in helping a new professor deal with issues of day-to-day academic life and requirements specific to his or her new department. A fifth way is for peer mentoring to occur among the new professors themselves.

While all five of these methods have some merit, we believe that an organized approach involving a personal mentor who is not the professor’s immediate supervisor is the most important component of any successful mentoring program.

The authors will discuss a number of activities that can be used in this mentoring process. They will include methods that worked as well as those that did not work.


The authors have all served as leaders of departments and have been involved with mentoring new faculty in a variety of ways. The first author served for five years as a Mechanical Engineering Program Chair. This past year the first author became a Department Chair at a new university. As department chair he has responsibility to mentor new faculty, and as a new professor, he was also on the receiving end of an established mentoring program. The second author moved to an endowed teaching chair after eight years of service as Program Chair and Academic Director of multiple engineering programs at another university. The third author has served as a Department Head for a very large program. These new experiences of the first two authors will be integrated into the already developed activities to form an overall suggested plan of action.

Jordan, W., & Elmore, B., & Bradley, W. (2006, June), Mentoring New Faculty: What Works And What Does Not Work Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--709

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