New faculty meet mentors in program

First-year students aren't the only people who can be overwhelmed when they arrive at UBC. New faculty members can also find it disorienting.

With a population of more than 30,000, arriving at UBC is like arriving in a small city for the first time. That's where the Faculty Mentoring Program comes in.

Seasoned UBC faculty members offer advice, guidance and information to make newcomers feel welcome and to familiarize them with the campus community.

"The Faculty Mentoring program is an effective way of helping new faculty through the administrative maze and in developing contacts throughout the university," says Barry McBride, vice-president, Academic and Provost.

The program, part of the Centre for Faculty Development and Instructional Services, started four years ago.

It introduces newcomers to a network of faculty members who, over time, will help them with problems and issues.

"New faculty members have read about the mentoring program on the Centre's Web site and say it was a factor in joining UBC," says Estelle Paget, the program's co-ordinator. "They felt UBC looked after its faculty."

Mentors begin with the basics, such as how to acquire a computer account, or where to go for photocopies, housing or child-care advice. In later years, mentors may provide advice on career issues such as tenure and grant applications.

The program offers a series of events during the year that provide opportunities for new faculty to meet mentors.

During an orientation day, they are taken on a campus tour, meet key administrators and faculty in their departments, and gain insight into campus culture. Social events, including monthly breakfast get-togethers, are held throughout the year.

Sixty people attended a faculty mentoring retreat hosted by UBC President Martha Piper this summer at Cecil Green Park House. Half a dozen groups discussed undergraduate teaching and other subjects.

"If we can support new faculty so they can participate more fully on campus," says Paget, "we're not only helping the individual, we're providing a service for the university."