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Faculty Mentoring Program Launches

Starting this spring, small groups of faculty will begin meeting as part of our new Faculty Mentoring Program.

Created in collaboration with the Commission for Blacks, Commission for LGBT People, and Commission for Women, the Faculty Mentoring Program is intended to foster a sense of community and support for tenure-line faculty, especially those from historically underrepresented groups—those who self-identify as people of color, women, or LGBTQ individuals.

“Faculty of different backgrounds often have different needs and face different challenges in their life and work. This is especially true of new or young faculty members,” said Matthew Theriot, interim vice provost for faculty affairs and associate provost for teaching and learning innovation. “We do a pretty good job of orienting new faculty to campus, but not such a good job of helping them get to know the community or build networks with colleagues.”

About 40 faculty members have signed up so far.

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

Yamagata-Lynch

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, professor of educational psychology and counseling, is one of them.

“This first semester is likely to be a learning experience for all of us,” she said. “And it will help identify a core group of faculty interested in university-wide mentoring so we can work together to further develop the program.”

Participants will be divided into small groups composed of different ranks and disciplines but with similar backgrounds and interests. The provost’s office will provide nominal funding so groups can meet periodically over a meal.

Yamagata-Lynch said she’s eager to share some of what she learned about juggling the demands of service and research as she went through the promotion process.

She also wants to make herself visible in hopes that it will inspire other faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

“At many universities in the United States, there is a shortage of women faculty who are full professors, especially when it comes to women of color,” she said.

If this spring’s programs go well, we’ll expand them in the fall.

Professional Development for Associate Professors

We are also planning a series of professional development events for associate professors to help them earn promotion to professor. Topics may include self-advocacy, work-life balance, the organization of UT, and available resources for faculty at UT.

For more information about these efforts, contact Theriot at 865-974-6152 or mtheriot@utk.edu.

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