College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Pre-Tenure Faculty Development Policy

This proposal for Pre-tenure Faculty Development for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences fits into broader initiatives at the University of Southern Maine and in the University of Maine System. The need for faculty development and mentoring programs has been part of many discussions on campus and is clearly on the agenda for USM. The Transforming USM Plan, 2004-09: Regional Excellence, National Recognition, cites four broad goals, which will empower USM to achieve regional excellence:

  • Actively embrace a community of intellectual inquiry and learning;
  • Deepen the organizational culture in support of inquiry and learning;
  • Build a responsive, coherent curriculum; and
  • Mobilize resources leading to a clear alignment of budgets with plans and priorities.

In the Transforming USM Plan, the section entitled “Invest in Current Programs and People,” cites as an essential action step “to recruit and sustain a diverse faculty “ the development and funding of a “comprehensive faculty development program.” Further, in a paper distributed by the Provost on August 20, 2004 entitled, “Faculty Development at USM: An Evolving Agenda for Recruiting and Sustaining a Strong and Diverse Faculty,” the following statement affirms the importance of faculty development in building a strong university: “The goal of faculty development at USM is to build a faculty of people whose scholarly and instructional abilities are highly complementary. This goal reflects evolution of the USM faculty over the last decade and is reflected in The USM Plan [2001] and accompanying annual work plans, including Transforming USM [2004].” The agenda put forth in this paper outlines actions needed to sustain a strong and diverse faculty at USM, including:

  • Pre- and Post-tenure review activities including mentoring programs (#2);
  • Instructional development activities for members of the faculty, including workshops, e.g., strategies for effective group work in courses and teaching discussions; teaching strategies, service learning, connecting research to teaching (#4); and
  • Scholarly or professional development for members of the faculty including released time programs (#5).

At a University of Maine System (UMS) Faculty Strategic Plan Summit held July 29-30, 2004, faculty from across the system recommended that “a formal, appropriately funded, faculty development program should be established. This should include a formal mentoring program for junior faculty.” This recommendation resulted in changes to the UMS Strategic Plan which would reflect and acknowledge this recommendation.

In response to these calls for faculty development, the College of Arts. Humanities and Social Sciences proposes a Faculty Development Plan for pre-tenure and newly hired faculty with three components:

  1. required participation in a Fall semester faculty development seminar consisting of five to six meetings with other newly hired faculty with a corresponding reduced teaching load of one three-credit course or its equivalent;
  2. the granting of one three-credit course or its equivalent prior to tenure for scholarship/research; and
  3. development of a formal faculty mentorship program.

It is the intent of this proposal that all faculty hired within the past two years (academic years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006) could participate. Release time for the Fall semester faculty development seminar will be restricted to newly hired faculty.

This proposal is an important development within the CAHS as newly hired tenure-track faculty members often enter the university with limited teaching experience and normally have no knowledge of the institutional cultures of the department they are entering, the College or USM. They often encounter a steep learning curve in their first semester as they master their new environment, learn a new advising process, work to sustain scholarship, develop and teach courses, and prepare their individual personnel presentation due within the first 6 months of their arrival.

In further delineating the details of the proposal, we propose that in their first semester at USM, newly hired tenure-track faculty teach two three-credit courses or the equivalent rather than the required three three-credit course (or equivalent) load. This reduction in course load would allow time for each new faculty to participate in a required seminar series of five to six meetings over the course of the fall semester. The seminar is intended to provide faculty opportunities to

  • focus on and discuss issues of teaching and pedagogy including discussions about situations they may encounter in their courses/with students at USM;
  • familiarize them with USM including its institutional history, its current status and long-range goals, issues of development and growth, decision-making procedures, and union procedures;
  • learn about resources for faculty development, enhancement of teaching, internal funding of research and scholarship, and support for external grant opportunities;
  • talk about the pre-tenure review process, expectations for tenure and promotion, and compiling a strong presentation packet;
  • develop a teaching/research-scholarship/service plan which requires the use of time management plans and skills;
  • consider the importance of faculty advising and learn about university and department requirements;
  • develop community among themselves, make connections across departments and establish relationships with peers in their cohort; and
  • learn about General Education revitalization and the transformation of the academy.

Faculty participation in this seminar will enable departments to spend more time with new faculty in discussions about the advising process (as pre-registration takes place within 6 weeks of the start of the semester), personnel procedures (review materials are due to Peer Committees by early March), curriculum, departmental policies and procedures. The course release recognizes the time new faculty need to immerse themselves in the activities of the College and of the University and will assist them in adjusting to and learning about USM and the community. This course release will be matched by funds for faculty development from the Provost’s office should the department find it necessary to replace the course with an overload or adjunct instructor.

The seminar will be facilitated by a senior CAHS faculty member, known as an excellent teacher, productive scholar, and engaged citizen. This faculty member will receive a one-course reduction for her/his work.

A second component of this proposal is the granting of a second course release to pre-tenure faculty to be used to develop faculty scholarship or creative work. This release could come as early as the second semester or as late as the fifth year. At the initiation of the faculty member and in consultation with the department, a course release would be granted for a specific scholarly project that could include initiating a new project, completing an old research project, meeting a deadline, etc. The second course release will also be matched by funds for faculty development from the Provost’s office should the department find it necessary to replace the course with an overload or adjunct instructor.

The final component of this proposal establishes a formal mentorship program wherein, as part of this first-semester experience for new faculty and as support for continuing faculty development, each pre-tenure faculty will be matched with a senior faculty mentor. It is the intent of this proposal that pre-tenure faculty will, no later than the end of the first semester, be matched with a mentor; that the mentor be a carefully chosen tenured faculty member who views their invitation to be a mentor as an honor; that the mentor have a broad institutional knowledge, be an excellent teacher-scholar, and an active citizen within the institution, and have the capacity to help the candidate develop a path to tenure; and that the mentor be from outside the home department(s) of the faculty member. The mentor is not meant to replace but to complement mentoring within the department. A list of faculty both qualified and willing to serve as mentors will be produced as a part of this plan. In addition, we anticipate that faculty selected as mentors would be affirmed by their department/school, and would be expected to work with and meet regularly with the faculty member throughout the entire pre-tenure period. The process of matching will be overseen by the senior faculty member facilitating the Fall faculty development seminar. A committee of CAHS Chairs will work with the Dean to develop a process for mentor matching to be in place by the end of the Fall 2005 semester. The plan will be reviewed and approved by CAHS Chairs prior to enactment.

It is our expectation that this plan will begin to ensure that the excellent faculty we are recruiting will also be retained and contribute to the well-being of the institution. We have reason to expect that their commitment to the institution will be enhanced and that their their willingness and ability to move into positions of leadership will be increased.

Approved by the CAHS Chairs/Directors, March 2, 2005