Pilot program aims to set new Science faculty up for success

Dean of Science, Maureen MacDonald gives welcoming remarks to new teaching and tenure track faculty in the Faculty of Science who are taking part in the New Faculty Mentoring program.

Maureen MacDonald, dean of Science, speaks to a cohort of new teaching and tenure track faculty in the Faculty of Science. The cohort are taking part in a pilot program aimed at providing them with a host of mentorship, career development and networking opportunities.

An innovative pilot program is providing new faculty members in the Faculty of Science with a host of mentorship, career development and networking opportunities aimed at helping them succeed in their first years at McMaster and throughout their careers.

The New Faculty Mentoring Program, which will run throughout the 2019/20 academic year, pairs a cohort of fourteen new teaching and tenure track faculty in the Faculty of Science with established faculty, while offering a suite of workshops and other sessions on a range of faculty development topics with an emphasis on building professional networks and supporting teaching excellence.

The pilot was initiated by the Faculty of Science and developed in partnership with the Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty and the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching.

“All our new faculty have tremendous potential,” says Maureen MacDonald, dean of the Faculty of Science. “This pilot program is intended to support these talented individuals early in their careers – to help expose them to faculty development opportunities that will enhance their teaching practise and help them form the relationships with each other and across the Faculty that will enable them to realize their potential and excel at McMaster.”

Over the academic year, new faculty will work with mentors from the Faculty of Science to create a customized professional development plan, which will include recommendations for mentorship meetings as well as peer observations of teaching.

The new faculty cohort will also take part in the Pan-University Faculty Development Series facilitated by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty, which includes sessions on teaching and technology, student mental health, tenure and permanence, work-life balance, and mindfulness.

As well, new faculty will have the option to participate in the Educator Enhancement Program offered through the MacPherson Institute, which is designed to help instructors improve and enhance their teaching and learning practices through seminars, advanced practicum opportunities and a capstone portfolio. Staff from the MacPherson Institute will also provide feedback on professional development plans and offer support for mentorship activities.

Lori Goff, director of the MacPherson Institute, believes that through this partnership, new faculty will be well-positioned for success in their roles.

“By combining the experiences of established members of the Faculty of Science with the MacPherson Institute’s expertise for building teaching and learning skills, new faculty will be able to leverage the mentorship of their peers while exploring teaching and learning best practices to both enhance their competency and to enable success in their careers at McMaster.”

The program will be modified throughout the year based on feedback from participants and will be evaluated by educational experts at the MacPherson Institute.

Kim Dej, McMaster’s associate vice-provost, faculty, says she hopes the pilot will serve as a blueprint that could ultimately be adopted across all Faculties.

“We’re looking forward to identifying what’s been successful and moving quickly to work with other Faculties to develop similar programs that may be modified to their community and culture,” says Dej. “I think there’s much we can learn from this pilot – it’s a great opportunity for all Faculties to engage with their early-career teaching and tenure track faculty in a new way.”