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Finding a Mentor

By Mary Deane Sorcinelli and Jung H. Yun,
University of Massachusetts Amherst

To navigate the complex world of modern academic life, faculty may need more help than a traditional one-size-fits-all mentor can provide.

Many of our campuses have expended a lot of time, effort, and funding in order to replenish our faculty ranks with a new generation of scholars. But the success of our new colleagues involves far more than simply recruiting and hiring them. Research shows that new faculty often encounter roadblocks that slow or halt their progress into the professoriate.

Because mentoring has been seen as a means of easing this transition, many institutions—ours included—have established mentoring programs to better support the short- and long-term needs of its newcomers.

Traditionally, mentoring in academia has followed a top-down model in which a senior faculty member guides the career development of his/her protégé. In recent years, however, we’ve seen the emergence of new approaches to mentoring, in which no single faculty member is expected to possess the expertise of many.

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, we’ve been experimenting with an innovative, flexible, and faculty-driven model of mentoring that encourages faculty at all stages of the academic career to build networks of mentoring partners who can address a wide variety of career competencies. We call this approach “Mutual Mentoring.”

Meet Mary Deane Sorcinelli and Jung H. Yun

Mary Deane Sorcinelli is Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Professor, Department of Educational Policy, Research and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also oversees the Center for Teaching and serves on the Five College Deans Council.

Jung H. Yun is the Director of New Faculty Initiatives in the Office of Faculty Development, and provides counsel to the Associate Provost on all issues related to new and early-career faculty development.

Mary Deane and Jung are currently Co-PIs of a generous grant in support of Mutual Mentoring from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They can be reached at or

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