February 5, 2020
Dear faculty colleagues,
About a decade ago, I had the good fortune of attending an academic leadership program that helped to shape my career and the way I thought about how I sought mentorship in my life. One question we were asked stood out. If you had a personal board of advisors, who should they be? That concept was such a revelation for me, and it made me wish someone had asked me that earlier in my academic career.
As a young assistant professor, I faced some common challenges. For example, I wasn’t sure whether I should speak up in faculty meetings. I wasn’t sure what to do when I had a student in crisis. I wasn’t sure where I should publish my work or which conferences I should attend. I was left to navigate this on my own, which I did although not always optimally; it would have been enormously helpful if I had my own board of advisors at that point in my career to guide me.
That was my experience, and as faculty members we all have our own unique challenges. Yet, when mentorship is nurtured and developed, the collective impact is great. We are more productive as individuals and in our collective communities. Our research, scholarship and educational impact are stronger. We have a richer and more meaningful investment in one another and in our collective successes.
The culture of faculty mentorship at UT is quite strong. I know countless faculty who invest considerable effort in the success of their colleagues. If fact, we even have faculty on campus who devote their scholarship to understanding and improving it. But there is room for continued improvement.
This semester, we’ll be sharing stories on this topic — the challenges they’ve faced and how mentorship from their colleagues has improved their careers and lives. My hope is sharing these stories will help to inspire all of us to consider how we connect with our mentors and mentees.
If you have a story you’d like to share with us, we want to hear it. Please share it with firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you a successful and productive spring semester. Thank you for all you do to support our students and one another.