I have always been a person who prefers work that has a beginning, middle, and end. Life in The Academy is a great fit for people like me. Each semester we cycle through these phases as we teach, mentor, serve on committees, and move towards graduation. Normally, I feel excited as the countdown to the end of the academic year begins. This year is different, however. My faculty mentor is retiring. I find this milestone incredibly bittersweet.
I met Nancy almost 15 years ago when I was an adjunct. She had just accepted her first full-time teaching position. We connected instantly and shared teaching tips, student success stories, and disappointments that came along the way. When a full-time faculty position opened in my discipline, Nancy encouraged me to apply, and so began the journey that led me to where I am today. She graciously offered to mentor me when I accepted the job. I remember clearly that Nancy promised to walk me through the process of being a new faculty member and would see me through to tenure before she retired.
This semester my tenure application was approved. Yet, this achievement means that my friend and mentor won’t be part of my daily life anymore as she transitions to her well-deserved retirement. I learned so much from Nancy over the last five years. Her expertise, knowledge of the institution, communication skills, and empathy were essential for my growth and development as a professor. Mentoring is an important part of academic life. I’d like to encourage senior faculty members to extend themselves to junior members in their department. I believe these relationships provide the support we all need to successfully navigate The Academy, not to mention offer the opportunity to form lasting friendships.
Don’t have a mentor? Come to our annual conference in October. I have a feeling that you’ll connect with people who can help you navigate your academic and professional journey.
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