Clearinghouse Models, Best Practices, and Other Resources

The Mid-Career Faculty Advancement Program (MFAP) offers a scaffold of best practices and resources that are tailored for the mid-career stage of faculty life.

Mid-Career Faculty Advancement Program

(Penn State 3-Year Pilot)

The goal of the 3-year pilot is to identify the strengths of the model and use annual evaluations of the program to inform the expansion of the program to the broader University.

Resource Team

The program offers a team approach to advancement that includes a director of MFAP, a Faculty Mentor, a Faculty Coach, the supportive head/director of each Fellow’s respective academic department, and a Campus Liaison on Commonwealth Campuses. This team will enhance knowledge and transparency around the promotion process and provide Fellows with multiple resources for support and guidance.

Faculty Mentor

Each Faculty Fellow is matched with a MFAP Faculty Mentor. MFAP Faculty Mentors are Penn State colleagues who hold the rank of full professor and who have volunteered to serve as mentor to at least one MFAP Faculty Fellow. Mentors are expected to maintain a traditional mentorship role and offer holistic guidance on advancement and the career experience of their assigned Midcareer Faculty Fellow.

Faculty Coach

The most distinguishing aspect of the pilot is the Faculty Coach component. Each Faculty Fellow works with a MFAP Faculty Coach. MFAP Faculty Coaches are Penn State tenured faculty colleagues who, in addition to their faculty roles, have acquired extensive training and experience as career coaches to faculty of all ranks. Coaches offer Fellows structured accountability, motivation, and support (primarily via an online environment) to overcome the work/life challenges that can often interfere with progress toward specific short-term goals related to career advancement. Faculty Coaches work with small groups and one-on-one.

Faculty Fellow Professional Development Network

MFAP hosts at least two gatherings each academic year that provide an opportunity for MFAP Fellows to gather, share writing space and career advancement information, and otherwise participate in a community of Fellows. This annual series of peer Fellow Engagement activities is be based on the needs and interests of MFAP Fellows changes from one year to the next, accordingly.

What our Peers and Aspirational Peers are Doing

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mentoring at Illinois
Information provided on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website ranges from the types of mentoring relationships (e.g., initial orientation; career related guidance and advice; and professional sponsors who facilitate access to networks) and varied mentoring programs such (e.g., assigned mentor/mentee; group mentoring by committee). This is a good start for departments that do not have a program and would like quick summaries of the variables that should be considered in developing a program.

University of Michigan, Five Approaches to Faculty Mentoring
The listing below describes five general approaches to faculty mentoring, developed by the University of Michigan. Each of the five summaries include a synopsis of the respective approach; how it may present in practice; and a brief outline of potential benefits and concerns to consider for each mentoring method. These approaches are not exclusive. A unit could choose to implement, for example, “Unit Oversight Mentoring” and “One-to-One Mentoring” options. Together, they offer a layered or scaffolded structure of support for early and/or mid-career faculty members. In addition, these are not one-size-fits-all approaches to mentoring. There exists the capacity to revise each method so that it best fits the needs, dynamics and structure of a college, campus, department or program.

From our view, Michigan’s “Five Approaches” provide an excellent starting point for unit leadership seeking to implement a new structure of support and for those interested in a revision to a current mentoring program. Remember that mentoring is service and should probably not require a heavy lift on the part of mentors or mentees. The goal is to encourage relationship building that will support the productivity and success of those more junior.

The five approaches are:

Columbia University
A comprehensive guide to mentoring intended to support academic unit leadership, guidance for those who serve as mentors, and reference for potential faculty mentees in search of strategies for working with mentors. The guide pays particular attention to mentoring relationships that support women and marginalized faculty members.

Harvard University
This resource offers three brief guides to “the responsibilities of departments, mentors, and mentees…that encapsulate key concepts and practices and are written to be stand-alone documents, for convenient use by departments, mentors, and mentees.”

See Harvard University’s “Mentoring Rings”: small groups of five, two mentors and three mentees who connect and learn from one another.