There are four dimensions that define the program: 1) the text, 2) the curriculum, 3) the mentor-mentee relationship, and 4) private mentee meetings. These dimensions are mutually informing and the balanced investment of each contributes to the success of the program. Tenure Track Network Club meetings serve as a platform to have formal and informal discussions on issues within academia, as well as to discuss helpful tips, adding value to the faculty experience at UTSA. The safest space possible is created during the meetings in order to allow mentees to ask questions, discuss experiences and seek additional insight to handle sensitive and unique issues that may be experienced during the tenure process.
Text used in the TTNC
“The Black Academic's Guide to Winning Tenure—Without Losing Your Soul”
by Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Tracey Laszloffy
This text provides a conceptual framework to mentors and mentees and an entry point into discussions that are helpful to assist tenure track faculty in their journey toward tenure. This text sparks courageous conversations that take place between mentees and mentors, as well as the Chairs and Deans. Although the text focuses on “Black Academics,” it generates discussion on the intersections of identity and the role that privilege and oppression plays in the tenure process.
The curriculum is loosely structured to account for the needs of junior faculty that can arise based upon conflicts in the department, incidents on campus, developing engaging teaching techniques, and methods to blend the necessary areas that are important to earning tenure. The curriculum is grounded in the “Nine Insights to Earning Tenure,” which was developed through anecdotal research. These insights have been identified as important in determining faculty success throughout the tenure process.
Nine Insights to Earning Tenure
- How to improve your teaching techniques
- How to be effective and efficient with your community service contribution
- How to be an effective advisor
- How to prepare and maintain an accurate and effective portfolio
- How to maximize your scholarship, i.e. publications, grants, etc.
- How to establish scholarly relationships with your colleagues
- How to balance your life and your career in academia
- How to manage your time to increase your productivity
- Helpful hints to navigate the tenure process at UTSA
Enhancing the quality of curricula offerings by the program, guest speakers are invited to speak on the three areas identified by UTSA in which faculty must excel to earn tenure. These areas are teaching, publishing, professional and community service. These experts are a part of the mentorship program and although they are not assigned a mentee, they are a resource that all of the mentees in the program can connect with to provide additional insight and assistance in their identified area.
Mentor and Mentee Relationship
Senior or highly skilled tenured faculty members with mentorship expertise and the desire to participate have been recruited from across UTSA to fill the role of mentors. Effective mentoring relationships at the beginning stages of the career of junior faculty members fosters a greater sense of satisfaction and improves the chances of retaining them. Previous research has shown that mentorship is essential to the success and retention of faculty from underrepresented populations. The mentor is assigned two junior faculty members who are on the path to tenure. The experiential knowledge of the mentors, as a collective, provide a plethora of knowledge that is helpful in navigating the institution and the tenure process.
It is strongly suggested that the mentees and their respective mentors connect with each other at least once per month. This will allow them to continue to build their relationship, improving communication channels. This will also provide the mentor with undivided time to provide information in more detail on the "nine insights to tenure." However, it is strongly encouraged that mentors and mentees connect more often.
The mentee receives additional assistance from a seasoned and expert faculty member who provides additional perspective on the skills needed to be an effective faculty member. Mentees will further develop their teaching, publishing and community service contributions, which are needed and valued on their journey to tenure.
The mentor is given the opportunity to assist in a junior faculty member’s success in earning tenure, work with a junior faculty member in contributing to the academy intellectually, provide service to the institution, receive portfolio recognition, increase their publication and professional development record which strengthens their content for Post Tenure Review and contributes to assisting in escorting excellent and diverse faculty into the tenured ranks.