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Volume 21, Number 2 Fall, 1994

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Discussion Leaders: Nancy Bailey, PhD; Robert Phemister, DVM, PhD
Rapporteurs: Henry Baker, DVM, PhD; JoAnn Eurell, DVM, PhD

Two parallel workshop groups discussed the topic of Faculty Development and Mentoring and began their joint report by agreeing on a definition of the issue. Our definition, "provide an environment that encourages faculty to achieve excellence in scholarly endeavors," contains several basic assumptions about the process and practice of faculty development and mentoring which were central to both groups' discussions about the challenges of, and solutions to, this issue.

The first assumption is that faculty development and mentoring are both best thought of as the establishment of an appropriately supportive and encouraging environment for faculty rather than as a prescribed set of activities taken by or for faculty members. The second assumption is that successful faculty members will be proactive on their own behalf within that supportive environment. The third assumption is that in order for faculty to develop properly and to achieve their goals of excellence in their academic endeavors, they must approach all of their activities--teaching, research, and service--in a scholarly manner.

In the process of merging the work of the two groups into a single report, the specific content of the participants' discussions combined to answer four questions:

  1. Why be concerned with faculty development and mentoring?
  2. When does faculty development and mentoring begin and end?
  3. How is faculty development and mentoring best accomplished?
  4. Who is responsible for faculty development and mentoring?

Challenges, opportunities, and strategies for enhancing faculty development activities at colleges of veterinary medicine are embedded within the participants' responses to these formative questions.

Why be Concerned with Faculty Development and Mentoring?

When Does Faculty Development and Mentoring Begin and End?

How are Faculty Development and Mentoring Best Accomplished?

1) Administrative interventions

a) careful recruiting to the faculty position
b) early provision of appraisal criteria
c) maintaining a continuous process of evaluation
d) use of the annual budgeting process to avoid salary compression
e) encouragement to use sabbatical leaves for the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, and perspectives
f) recognition that mobility (job changes) may be best for some faculty

2) Continuing education opportunities such as coursework for skill development in a second discipline in either veterinary or non-veterinary areas.

3) International educational opportunities (such as Fulbright and other exchange programs) can be important professional development strategies which are independent of the process of mentoring.

One of the most important roles of the mentors, beyond the provision of morale support, is to work with the faculty member toward a mutual understanding of his or her immediate needs, long-range professional goals, and strengths and weaknesses. Whether the mentoring relationship is formal or informal, structured or indirect, good mentors, like all good teachers, will activate the initiative of faculty members rather than provide all needed resources to passive recipients. Good mentors will provide options rather than dogmatic advice. Teams of mentors composed of people at several levels of professional achievement and representatives from outside the departmental boundaries can provide a rich array of options, advice, and role models for faculty at various stages of their professional development.

Who is Responsible for Faculty Development and Mentoring?

In both of the discussion groups, there was agreement that everyone in an academic unit (department or college) has a stake in the successful professional development and mentoring of all faculty. Individually and collectively, in each of their several roles in the academy, faculty must both contribute to and partake of the many kinds of activities which combine to "provide an environment that encourages faculty to achieve excellence in scholarly endeavors."

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