When the Board of Trustees’ (BOT) Academic
Affairs Committee invited newly tenured and promoted faculty members
to the annual reception honoring their promotion on Oct. 8, the
committee extended a second invitation: It asked the professors
to invite a mentor who’d helped them along in their careers.
Twenty-eight faculty responded to that gesture and invited senior
faculty who, though not necessarily in a formal way, provided them
guidance. Trustee Chilton Varner, who chairs the Academic Affairs
Committee, said the twist to the reception was just the latest in
a string of new mentoring opportunities that have come to Emory
in recent years.
"It’s a great demonstration of one of the values of tenure,
which is that it allows people with greater experience who’ve
been at Emory longer to foster excellence in younger people coming
up the ladder," Varner said of the reception. "The faculty
thought it was a great idea, and most saw it as a way they could
thank people who had fostered their own intellectual excellence
Varner said her BOT committee talks about mentoring as a natural
product of Emory’s growth as an institution; as a university
grows in size, mentoring relationships become more relevant, not
just at Emory but anywhere, she said, adding that the committee
is supportive of any effort that celebrates and improves the availability
Perhaps the best known of Emory’s formal mentoring programs
is the provost’s office’s Passages, now in its fifth
year of matching younger and more senior women faculty from the
same schools but different departments. Launched through the President’s
Commission on the Status of Women during the 1999–2000 academic
year, Passages has fostered some 75 mentoring partnerships.
"As junior faculty come into a new position at a new institution,
they’re looking for quality guidance to help understand this
new place and what it takes to succeed," said Kim Loudermilk,
director of special academic projects in Emory College. Loudermilk
directed Passages for the provost’s office before moving to
her new position for 2003–04.
Passages is at least indirectly responsible for other mentoring
opportunities such as a new program being launched this year in
the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Though the school has
fostered informal mentoring relationships in the past, Professor
Marcene Powell and Associate Professor Rose Cannon are directing
the first structured effort.
Powell said more than 40 nursing faculty are participating in the
program, which at the beginning will focus more on teaching than
research. She said the goal is to help junior faculty become comfortable
in the classroom by offering help with planning syllabi, activities
for the first day of class, lecturing guidance and other pedagogical
"We’re trying to make faculty feel more valued in the
teaching environment here," Powell said, adding that the school
has developed a comprehensive handbook and a seven-volume series
that together provide a wealth of information for nursing’s
Oxford College also incorporates mentoring into its Teaching Excellence
in Scholar-ship program for new faculty.
Passages moved quickly from 10 mentor-mentee pairs in its first
year to 15 in its second and 25 in its third and fourth years. Loudermilk
said finding young faculty to participate was never a problem; the
only challenge was finding enough senior faculty to serve as mentors.
"The benefit is an altruistic one for mentors," she said.
"Though I have heard stories from senior faculty about how
they learn new and exciting ideas from younger people."
"I took my mentee to lunch at Houston Mill House," said
Powell. "We had a discussion about what her goals were, and
I came away so enriched by the experience that I couldn’t
believe it. What did I get out of it? A lot of joy."