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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 11 | Sep. 5 , 2002

Finding a Friend on the First Day of School

New faculty to benefit from mentoring program

By Hilary Thomson

Everyone knows being the new kid at school can be scary for students, but for UBC's more than 450 full and part-time new faculty members, it can be just as unnerving.

That's why Luisa Canuto will partner senior faculty with campus newcomers as she revitalizes UBC's faculty mentoring program to give our newest faculty members some seasoned support.

Mentor John Gilbert, principal of the College of Health Disciplines, says he is motivated to make the complex organism called the university more user friendly.

"By serving as a mentor, I'm privileged to repay the debt I owe UBC for the amazing academic life it has allowed me since arriving as a young faculty member 36 years ago," he adds.

Some mentors say the process injects energy into their own careers and revitalizes their interest in their work and in the university, says Canuto who is project coordinator in The Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG).

She will establish an advisory group of about 15 senior faculty and others to rebuild the mentoring program. She has contacted deans and department heads for input. Some departments already have an existing mentoring system which augments the TAG program.

"This is a big part of academic growth for both mentors and new faculty," says Canuto, who has been a sessional instructor in the French, Hispanic and Italian Studies Dept. and Continuing Studies since 1996. "Both partners come away with new learning about their careers and a new perspective on the university."

Issues for new faculty range from learning departmental protocol and handling teaching challenges to personal issues such as work/family balance.

The mentoring program helps to build community on campus and increase new faculty's sense of belonging - to their discipline and to their university, says TAG director Gary Poole. Mentors in UBC's original program have been asking when the program would be revived, he adds.

"For mentors, the rewards are intrinsic," he says. "There is a great sense of personal satisfaction in being valued for your experience and knowing that it helps others."

In addition to professional support, the program offers a social network that is especially valuable to faculty who arrive from other countries. A walking tour for new faculty held in August allowed recruits to visit units on campus and get to know colleagues.

Three-day instructional skills workshops for new faculty have been held as well as sessions on topics such as hiring grad students and managing a lab.

"We want new faculty to know there is a place for them here," says Poole. By the year 2005 more than 45 per cent of current faculty will retire, making faculty renewal a key strategy in Trek 2000, the university vision statement.

TAG, established in 1987, is dedicated to enhancing the teaching skills of faculty and graduate students through a range of programs, services and resources. For further information visit the website at www.tag.ubc.ca. or see the next issue of Tapestry, the TAG newsletter.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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