Expectations for Faculty Mentors

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President's Postdoctoral Fellowship mentors are usually tenured faculty who are expected to (1) take an active role in helping the fellow to plan and achieve his or her research goals, (2) assist the fellow in establishing a visible presence in department, (3) facilitate opportunities for the fellow to participate in national and international research meetings, (4) encourage the fellow to focus full-time on research and avoid other commitments such as teaching or outside employment, (5) assist the fellow in seeking opportunities to present papers or to interview for faculty positions at the other campuses, and (6) attend the program professional development activities such as the annual gathering.

The program encourages mentors to meet with their fellow at the beginning of the fellowship to discuss their working arrangements and consider appropriate long and short term goals for the term of the fellowship. The mentor should not expect to meet all of the fellow's career development needs personally, but should provide an overall framework to ensure that the fellow has access to a broad academic network to support his or her work.

Mentors may also play an important role in advising fellows about the academic job market and making connections to related departments at other campuses that may be interested in the fellow for a faculty appointment. At the University of Michigan, departments that are interested in considering applicants for faculty appointments should contact the fellowship program office (ADV-Michigan-Postdoc@umich.edu).

Please note: It is expected that departments and faculty mentors will make appropriate arrangements for space and other necessary resources.

Frequently Asked Questions: U-M Faculty Mentors
FINDING A MENTOR

Q: What are the expectations of the faculty mentors during the fellowship?
A: President's Postdoctoral Fellowship mentors are usually tenured faculty who are expected to (1) take an active role in helping the fellow to plan and achieve his or her research goals, (2) assist the fellow in establishing a visible presence in department, (3) facilitate opportunities for the fellow to participate in national and international research meetings, (4) encourage the fellow to focus full-time on research and avoid other commitments such as teaching or outside employment, (5) assist the fellow in seeking opportunities to present papers or to interview for faculty positions at the other campuses, and (6) attend the program professional development activities such as the annual gathering.

The program encourages mentors to meet with their fellow at the beginning of the fellowship to discuss their working arrangements and consider appropriate long and short term goals for the term of the fellowship. The mentor should not expect to meet all of the fellow's career development needs personally, but should provide an overall framework to ensure that the fellow has access to a broad academic network to support his or her work.

Mentors may also play an important role in advising fellows about the academic job market and making connections to related departments at other campuses that may be interested in the fellow for a faculty appointment. At the University of Michigan, departments that are interested in considering applicants for faculty appointments should contact the fellowship program office (ADV-Michigan-Postdoc@umich.edu).

Q: Are assistant professors allowed to be faculty mentors?
A: The program encourages applicants to select a tenured faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases assistant professors can be excellent prospective mentors.

Q: May an applicant select a faculty mentor from their current department or campus?
A: The program encourages applicants to look for a mentor outside their current department and their home campus unless they can articulate a strong reason for remaining in the same academic location in their research proposal and/or education background statement. For the University of Michigan program, this FAQ only applies to current University of Michigan Ph.D. students, postdocs, etc. who are interested in applying to the University of Michigan postdoc program; applicants from other institutions (i.e., not the University of Michigan) should identify a mentor in the most appropriate UM academic department.

Q: Can an applicant select a retired faculty member to be their faculty mentor?
A: The program encourages applicants to select an active faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases retired faculty who are still fully involved in their department and their research program are excellent prospective mentors.

Q: Can a faculty member serve as a mentor for more than one applicant?
A: Yes, faculty may serve as a mentor for more than one applicant for the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Q: What should be covered in the faculty mentor's letter of support?
A: The e-mail sent by the application system to faculty mentors will ask them to address the following in a letter of support:

  • applicant's planned research;
  • expected coursework, if any;
  • extent to which the applicant will participate in departmental and campus academic activity (e.g., seminar programs);
  • extent of applicant's anticipated participation at national/international research meetings;
  • facilities and resources available to the fellow; and
  • mentor's involvement in mentoring for other programs designed to increase access and opportunity in higher education.

Q: Does the applicant need a letter of support from the department chair?
A: Yes. The University of Michigan President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program office, in concert with the proposed faculty mentor, will request a letter of support from the department chair. This separate letter from the department chair should describe the department's level of interest in hiring the applicant into a tenure-track position and/or identify a potential fit with another University of Michigan department, if that is appropriate.

APPLICATION

Q: How will the applicant know when the faculty mentor and reference letter(s) have been uploaded to the online application?
A: The applicant will receive e-mail confirmations from the online application system each time a letter is uploaded to the application. The applicant can check on the status of their application, including the arrival of the mentor and reference letters, by using the username and password they created and returning to the application information page.

Q: What is the application deadline?
A: The deadline for submitting the online application is November 1st each year. The deadline for faculty mentor and reference letters is December 1st each year.

REVIEW AND SELECTION

Q: If the applicant is unable to relocate because of family reasons, can s/he still apply?
A: The program requires that fellows are in residence and establish a presence at the mentor's campus, school or department.

FUNDING SUPPORT

Q: Does the support from the Provost's Office include space?
A: No. The Provost's Office provides a salary of $50-60,000, depending on the field and level of experience, and $10,000 for research and professional development. The Provost's Office support also includes enrollment in a health plan for fellow and dependent(s), group life insurance, three weeks of sick leave, and one month (non-accrual) of vacation. It is expected that departments and faculty mentors will make appropriate arrangements for space and other necessary resources.

Q: What are the expectations of UM host departments?
A: Host departments are encouraged to welcome the fellow into the department and make every effort to ensure that the fellow is included in communications about departmental colloquia, seminars and social events. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with information about salary and benefits and administer the fellow's research and professional travel funds. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with appropriate office space and routine administrative support. In addition, President's Postdoctoral Fellows should be provided with opportunities for career development, including consideration for a faculty position at the University of Michigan.

Please also see the frequently asked questions for applicants and UM department chairs.

© 2015 ADVANCE Program at the University of Michigan