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Lang (2005) and Karanovich (2010) published their personal lessons learned and experiences from life on the tenure track. Researchers and junior faculty recognize the need to help aspiring and junior faculty to succeed without having to learn everything “the hard way.” Other professors have also shared their advice on the transition to professorate.

In 2007 nine professors new to the professoriate used a narrative approach to publish an article to give voice to those making the journey from the role of school administrator to that of university professors (Coleman et al., 2007). The questions posed to the participants centered on the benefits, disadvantages, and suggestions on ways to assist peers transitioning to a position in higher education. The authors noted that throughout the interactions and dialogue of the participants, they discovered the transition process could be described as a ‘struggle.’ “Within this struggle, we were able to determine four categories of struggle that were experienced during the transition: (1) struggle with the role; (2) struggle with self; (3) the cultural struggle; and (4) the struggle for the future” (p. 68). The authors acknowledge that the attempt to balance the struggles can often be daunting and they affirm it is difficult to navigate the culture and politics of the university setting. They stated, “The university must support a systemic, systematic, and coherent mentoring process" (p. 74).

Sampson and Tareilo (2009) gained advice from fellow professors with suggestions for a successful transition from PK-12 administration to higher education faculty. Some of the suggestions were network through professional organizations, focus on purposeful activities, work hard, learn the reward system of the university and the pecking order of the department, realize there will be no secretarial support, self-discipline your time, and persevere on submitting manuscripts for publication.

Research on mentoring for success in higher education:

The research on mentoring crosses several disciplines including medical, business, and education . Grackowski (2010) examined transitioning for occupational therapists and found that quality mentor programs needed supportive and confidential mentors who helped with instructional methods for teaching and the design of the courses. However, Grackowski (2010) found that there was limited time for research collaboration. He further found that mentorship programs were not offered to any of the participants in the study although all of their participants would have liked a mentor.

Mentoring for new higher education faculty is not a recent phenomenon. Gerdes (2003) contacted 98 women who had taken an assistant professorship during the 1970’s. The interviewed women, over 30 years ago, suggested that women find mentorship.

Then, in 2004, researchers surveyed 247 female tenure and tenure-track faculty at one university. They found that mentorship was extremely important to their satisfaction. (August&Waltman, 2004). Gibson (2006) interviewed nine women faculty who had received mentoring. She found that a mentoring experience helped the women feel a connection, affirmed their worth, lessened the sense of being alone, gave someone who cared about them, acted in their best interests, and helped them understand that politics are part of everyone’s experiences.

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Source:  OpenStax, Education leadership review special issue: portland conference, volume 12, number 3 (october 2011). OpenStax CNX. Oct 17, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11362/1.5
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