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Mentoring Academy invests in people

February 2, 2016

IUPUI relies heavily on the men and women who fill faculty roles and wants to ensure that they have the best possible chance to fulfill their personal and professional goals, which in turn contributes to the student success that is a primary campus mission.

That's the challenge that the Mentoring Academy faces, says Gail Williamson, the director of faculty enhancement in Academic Affairs and a member of the committee that oversees the academy.

The Mentoring Academy is about building strength from within. By passing on the knowledge and experience of veteran IUPUI faculty and staff, it helps younger counterparts build a solid career foundation.

"When an academic culture is built on mentoring, everyone involved in the process benefits," said Williamson. "That includes new faculty, midlevel faculty and senior-level faculty. Together, they offer IUPUI an environment where unlimited success is possible."

New faculty, she noted, gain through social and career development, helping them succeed in teaching, research and creative activity, civic engagement, and service -- all vital parts of IUPUI's goal to enhance student success. Mentoring helps experienced faculty acquire and refine their leadership skills, providing the campus with a solid academic foundation.

"Our goal is to position IUPUI as an employer of choice," said Williamson. The plan is to improve workplace culture and communication and provide more developmental opportunities for all categories of faculty.

The effort is a key part of the Strategic Plan, which puts a high priority on faculty and staff talent development.

"IUPUI has a great investment in its faculty, and we want to ensure that this investment will lead to greater success and productivity," Williamson said. "We want to give our people the greatest possible opportunity to achieve their goals."

The Mentoring Academy is an important part of the campus's commitment to the advancement of women and underrepresented minority faculty in academia, she added.

Faculty and staff at all stages of their careers helped shape the Mentoring Academy and the campus's commitment to providing that support, Williamson noted. A 2012 Academic Affairs survey generated a 70 percent response rate, which she said clearly outlined an interest in building a support structure that allowed younger faculty and staff to tap the expertise of those with years of IUPUI experience.

The Mentoring Academy has provided programming and opportunities for schools to compete for funding of school-based mentoring programs. Thus far, eight schools have received funding to implement their mentoring programs. Funded proposals have targeted various faculty groups, including women, first-generation and minority faculty, clinical faculty, and associate professors as well as department chairs. The Mentoring Academy is preparing to launch another call for proposals and is planning a fall symposium on mentoring. Further details will be forthcoming.

An overview of the Mentoring Academy is housed in the Office of Academic Affairs website and includes a link to a white paper that provides more detailed insights into the program and a mentoring exchange to match mentors and mentees.

Note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting IUPUI's Strategic Plan initiatives.

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