DICE Launches New Early Career Faculty Mentoring Program
Monday morning, select members of the Saint Louis University faculty met in the Pere Marquette Gallery to launch SLU’s new Early Career Faculty Mentoring Program.
The mentoring program is a new initiative from the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement (DICE).
“The program is part of our larger Belonging Campaign,” said Rochelle Smith, Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement. “The division is focused on leading SLU to the forefront of diversity, equity, and inclusion by shifting Saint Louis University to a place of belonging and thriving through the steadfast elimination of institutional inequities.”
The program is being led by Smith, Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for DICE, and DICE faculty fellow Jintong Tang, Ph.D.
The program is designed to support the newly established Academic Affairs Strategic Plan for 2022-2025 and the President's Priorities (2022-23) for improving faculty recruitment, retention, and advancement. The program was created in the spirit of SLU’s Catholic Jesuit Mission.
Heiden-Rootes said the mission “implores us to welcome, support, and create belonging among faculty, especially those from historically excluded backgrounds.”
Smith and Heiden-Rootes described how a diverse faculty body attracts students from diverse backgrounds, a parallel goal established in the strategic plan. Mentoring is seen as a stepping stone to achieving these goals. There are empirically supported methods for increasing faculty retention and advancement through dedicated mentorship programs for community building and networks.
About 45 faculty members were invited to join the program.
The faculty in their early career as assistant professors from tenure and nontenure tracks were identified through multiple channels, including dissemination of flyers campus-wide and nomination by deans, associate deans, and department chairs. The program is open to all faculty and was specially designed to address the tenure and promotion disparities among those from historically underrepresented backgrounds in higher education.
Monday’s kickoff was designed to welcome the group into the program. The event featured discussions around adjusting to life in St. Louis and at SLU. Debra Lohe, Ph.D., Associate Provost, was the featured guest at the event, delivering an invocation about the power of a new community forming and offering “the magic of human laboring together to support, encourage, and enrich one another.”
Heiden-Rootes said the program has two main goals. The first goal is to assist in skills building for early-career faculty members to ensure academic success. The second goal is to build a mentorship network at the University.
“Our faculty fellow, Dr. Tang, will be measuring each through surveys and focus group interviews so that we can monitor faculty impact,” Heiden-Rootes said. “We will also be following the faculty over the long term to see how this impacts their trajectory to advancement.”
The group is scheduled to meet once a month throughout the academic year. Each meeting will have a different topic, including sessions on time management, scholarship, and teaching. A social hour and retreat are also planned.
While admission is closed for the 2023-24 academic year, Smith and Heiden Rootes said early career faculty are always welcome to reach out to the DICE office and ask about available support.