Book Examines Mentoring of New
Faculty at Church-Related Colleges
Posted June 11, 2003
HOLLAND -- A new book by Dr. Caroline Simon of the
Hope College faculty addresses a topic close to home: the
mentoring of new faculty at church-related colleges.
Dr. Simon, a professor of philosophy, is the lead
author of "Mentoring for Mission: Nurturing New Faculty at
Church-Related Colleges," published recently by Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co.
The book offers suggestions for schools interested
in building or enhancing programs geared toward helping
young faculty develop as teachers and scholars within their
school's particular context. It draws on the experiences of
Hope, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in
America, and a number of other Protestant and Catholic
colleges and universities.
Simon stresses that the book doesn't present a
road map, but rather coaches institutions to develop their
own practical wisdom so that they can develop programs that
fit their individual culture and identity.
"We're not telling people the 'one way' to mentor
faculty," she said. "But we are giving them a strategy for
how to think about a unified vision and how that vision
relates to their particular institution."
The book considers topics such as Christian views
of personhood, the role of Christian virtues in mentoring,
the value of mentoring in discerning one's particular
calling as a teacher and a scholar, and how different
emphases of particular Christian traditions shape mentoring
at schools founded by different religious bodies. The book
also includes advice on program design and implementation,
problem-solving for ongoing mentoring programs, and how
institutions can sustain mentoring even amid the busyness of
Colleges and universities that engage in
mentoring, Simon said, can realize an added benefit beyond
the difference made to the individual faculty members, since
the process requires each school to be deliberate about
understanding the role of its Christian tradition.
"Doing new faculty development has an additional
benefit for the institution in that it forces the
institution to figure out who it is," she said. "That can
keep the conversation of how the Christian background of the
college is relevant to the academic mission on the front
burner of the institution."
The book was developed through the "Mentoring
Models Initiative," a cooperative effort funded by the Lilly
Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, a national
network of more than 60 church-related colleges and
universities interested in exploring Christian
understandings of the nature of the academic vocation.
Simon worked with seven other authors in surveying the
experiences of institutions that had run mentoring programs
with network support, including Hope.
Simon had experienced Hope's "Teaching Enhancement
Workshop" as a new faculty member in 1988. She subsequently
led portions of the college's faculty mentoring program, and
also directed a Hope-hosted summer institute sponsored by
the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts for
young doctoral scholars from around the nation interested in
considering how Christian faith can inform higher education.
In exploring the topic from a general perspective,
Simon noted that she developed a deeper appreciation for
Hope's commitment to mentoring.
"One of the things I learned from this process was
that there are many, many places that are doing far less
than Hope is in faculty development," she said. "We as
faculty can be grateful for what the college does."
The college's multi-day "Teaching Enhancement
Workshop" for new faculty runs shortly before the start of
classes each fall. Ongoing mentoring for new faculty at
Hope includes an additional workshop in the summer, as well
as connecting professors in their second year at the college
with a senior faculty member who can provide both
suggestions concerning professional development and
perspective on being a member of the Hope community in
Simon's co-authors represent a variety of
experiences in church-related higher education. They are:
Laura Bloxham, professor of English at Whitworth College;
Denise Doyle, vice president for academic and student
affairs at the University of the Incarnate Word; Mel Hailey,
professor of political science at Abilene Christian
University; Jane Hokanson Hawks, associate professor of
nursing at Midland Lutheran College; Kathleen Light,
associate professor of nursing at the University of the
Incarnate Word; Dominic P. Scibilia, a member of the
religion faculty at St. Peter's Preparatory School, New
Jersey; and Ernest Simmons, professor of religion at
"Mentoring for Mission: Nurturing New Faculty at
Church Related Colleges" is 139 pages long, and is available
in paperback for $14.