Mid-Career Mentoring

Building a network of support for mid- and advanced- career faculty 

Faculty productivity, engagement, and belonging are critical for Clemson to meet its strategic objectives outlined in the Clemson®ELEVATE  strategic plan.  The Office of Faculty Advancement was established by Clemson to support faculty at each stage of their career.  Since the needs of faculty vary between early and late career stages, this office will initially focus on establishing supports for faculty who have completed their probationary years (earned tenure) but are not yet are not preparing for their retirement (Baldwin and Chang, 2006).  This cohort is typically referred to as midcareer faculty.  During this career stage, faculty can see significant life transitions, identifying their desired career trajectory and make robust strategic career plans (Baker and Manning 2021). Recent surveys have also suggested that faculty in this midcareer stage have relatively lower levels of job satisfaction and higher levels of burnout (2022 Faculty Retention Survey, Academic Impressions). 

Since Fall 2023, we have been busy combing through published literature and program reports to find evidence-based techniques to help faculty and doing an environmental scan of the midcareer programing already established at Clemson.  Our efforts are focused serving both on “regular” faculty who proceed through a tenure process and also other types of faculty such as lecturers, clinical professors, research professors, librarians, etc.  Our work is important, since the work of our faculty transforms lives.  

If you are interested in learning more about midcareer faculty and professional development, we would suggest the following books: 

(1) Baker, V. L. Charting Your Path to Full: A Guide for Women Associate Professors; Rutgers University Press, 2020. 

(2) Baker, V. L. Managing Your Academic Career: A Guide to Re-Envision Mid-Career; Routledge, 2022. 

(3) Newport, C. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World; Little, Brown Book Group, 2016. 

(4) Baker, V. L.; Lunsford, L. G.; Neisler, G.; Pifer, M. J.; Terosky, A. L. Success after Tenure: Supporting Mid-Career Faculty; Taylor & Francis, 2023. 

How did this initiative get started? 

Clemson has a long history of providing programming and supports for early career faculty as they onboard and work towards earning tenure.  The need for extending these efforts to mid and advanced career faculty was identified by evaluators of the ‘TIGERS ADVANCE: Transforming the Institution through Gender Equity, Retention, and Support’ NSF program (2017-2023) who also suggested that this new programming be sensitive to intersectionality.  

2023-2024 Planned Efforts to Enhance Midcareer Support by the Office of Faculty Advancement 

  • Review the 2017 and 2022 faculty responses to the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Faculty Job Satisfaction survey.  This data will provide insight on full-time faculty perceptions of their experiences.  It asks questions related to the promotion and tenure, the nature of their work, policies and practices, and the general climate, culture and level of collegiality on their campuses.  
  • Examine the existing professional development opportunities for midcareer faculty within each college and department to identify best practices and what additional support these units need for their faculty to accelerate during their mid and advanced career stages. 
  • Create a vision and strategic plan for midcareer faculty support for tenured and tenure-track faculty.   
  • Begin effort to examine the experiences of special faculty (lecturers, research faculty, etc.) during midcareer.   

Who are we partnering with 

The Office of Faculty Advancement reports to the senior associate provost for faculty affairs at Clemson (Dr. Amy Lawton-Rauh). In addition to other staff in Faculty Affairs, we partner associate deans from each of the Clemson colleges, our advisory board, and the University Faculty Mentoring CommitteeThe University Faculty Mentoring Committee is responsible for supporting a culture of tenure-track and special faculty mentorship among departments and colleges across the university. They explore ways to better align college-specific mentoring and onboarding efforts with college and university-wide orientations for new faculty. 


What programming and resources are there currently for midcareer faculty at Clemson? 

Virtual Professional Development Seminars and Writing Groups 

While faculty can request mentoring and coaching from faculty within their colleges or departments, external resources are available.  Clemson University provides all faculty with access to two faculty development platforms: Academic Impressions and  National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity. Below is a brief description of each platform and how you can access them.   

Academic Impressions is focused on professional and leadership training for faculty, staff and administrators in higher ed.  Users can access both asynchronous and live seminars.  Clemson University has a site license for this professional development program, and you can login using your Clemson credentials with no additional registration needed for most courses, webinars and trainings.  Once you choose a topic you are interested in, you can then click on the ‘login/create account’ tab.  As a Clemson faculty member, you can just use your institutional email and password.  

In addition to Academic Impressions, Clemson faculty also have access to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity portal. To activate your account through the NCFFS portal follow this link: https://www.facultydiversity.org/institutions/clemson  One of the most popular components of this platform are two-week writing accountability groups in addition to the on-demand seminars and live events.   

Writing Sessions 

The Office of Faculty Advancement offers monthly writing groups to help faculty make progress on their scholarship.  

‘Faculty Coffee Klatch’  

Each month, a discussion session is facilitated to help faculty learn about the institutional supports for faculty, meet with administrators and discuss best practices for their unique circumstances.