Mentorship Across Faculty Lines: Implications for Lack of Mentorship at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Mentorship Across Faculty Lines: Implications for Lack of Mentorship at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Glacia Ethridge (North Carolina A&T State University, USA), Anthony Andrews (North Carolina A&T State University, USA), Alayna A. Thomas (North Carolina A&T State University, USA) and Quintin Boston (University of the District of Columbia, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4071-7.ch003

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to provide insight into the needs for faculty members across faculty lines at HBCUs; provide implications for not engaging in mentorship for junior and senior level faculty; identify the impact that lack of mentorship has on the institution as an entity and to a degree, the community; and provide solutions and recommendations for those interested in the implications for lack of mentorship across faculty lines at HBCUs. The conclusion is that while both HBCU literature and culture have been reviewed, additional research is required to provide an effective solution.
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Introduction

Mentorship has been studied extensively in higher education. Many topics in this area pertain to faculty retention and recruitment of minority faculty persons (e.g., Cantey, Bland, Mack, & Joy-Davis, 2013; Evans, 2013; Stanley, 2006; Stanley & Berlin, 2007; Vega, Yglesias, & Murray, 2010), particularly women in higher education (e.g., Dutta et al., 2011), junior faculty (e.g., Kohn, 2014; Moss, Teshima, & Leszcz, 2008; Steele, Fisman, & Davidson, 2013), and African American men in academia (e.g., Alexander-Albritton & Hill, 2015). While these topics are indeed imperative and address the needs of minority faculty members in their quest for promotion and tenure in higher education, the research has not focused on the mentoring needs of faculty members at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nor across faculty tenure lines (e.g., assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor).

It is well-known that mentorship is and can be a collaborative effort for both the mentor and mentee in the relationship, but typically, these relationships are primarily geared towards junior faculty members new to academia whereby senior level faculty provides support. Research has shown that overall, both parties in this relationship find it to be beneficial. However, there is paucity in the literature regarding mentorship for senior level faculty members who have attained promotion and tenure in higher education, particularly for those working at HBCUs. One may surmise that mentorship for senior faculty members is not a critical need to be addressed in comparison to the needs of junior faculty members, or that senior level faculty members may not have expressed, either directly or indirectly, their desire for mentorship. While it is imperative to support junior faculty as they embark on their academic careers, the level of support should not cease as a result of acquiring promotion and tenure, as mentorship should continue for senior faculty to maintain scholarly productivity.

Another consideration is the perceptions of mentorship for faculty members teaching at HBCUs. There is a paucity of information in this area as much of the research focusing on mentoring is geared towards faculty teaching, particularly minority faculty, at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Additionally, one could argue that perhaps mentorship at an HBCU is unique when examining the needs of its faculty members as one may presume that mentorship at an HBCU is not greatly needed. One may assume that faculty members working in this type of institution may represent similar cultural backgrounds and may not experience the same barriers that faculty members at PWIs encounter. Mentorship, regardless of university affiliation and faculty position, is critical to the viability of recruiting and retaining faculty members who disseminate knowledge to students and propel research in the field (Harris, Ho, Markle, & Wessel, 2011). While we may know the benefits and to a degree the barriers to mentorship, what is unknown is the impact of not participating in this relationship for junior and senior level faculty members, particularly at HBCUs. Hence, the mission of this book chapter is to provide implications for the lack of mentorship across faculty tenure lines at HBCUs. In general, faculty in higher education are required to provide instruction, establish a research agenda, obtain funding, and engage in service. These requirements can be cumbersome for new professors in academia; hence, one of the reasons that departments and institutions may implement mentorship programs between junior and senior level faculty members is to foster transition into higher education. By not participating in this relationship, it can be presumed that junior faculty will not be successful in the promotion and tenure process; thereby impacting faculty retention. It begs the question of how does low retention rates for junior faculty members impact HBCUs? For senior level faculty, concerns may center on low productivity in scholarship and research as well as faculty engagement yielding complacency for senior level faculty members who are and have been instrumental in the department and institution. Similarly, how does lack of mentorship for tenured level faculty members impact HBCUs? Additionally, what are the mentoring needs of senior level faculty members in comparison to junior level faculty at HBCUs?

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