Springfield, Ohio — Wittenberg's faculty mentorship program is getting revamped with funding assistance from the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. Headed by Faculty Development Board Administrator and Associate Professor of English Ty Buckman and Associate Professor of English Lori Askeland, the mentorship program seeks to increase the number of participating mentors and mentees.
"Wittenberg's faculty mentorship program was redesigned several years ago, but until now we were missing a kind of focus," said Buckman, who will also be the program director. "The Lilly grant is a further evolution of that redesign process. It allows us to develop a mission-centered approach to mentoring."
This year, application to the program was very competitive – fewer than half of the applicants received funding.
The Lilly Fellows Program, based in Valparaiso University in Indiana, helps church-affiliated higher education institutions strengthen their quality and shape their character by sponsoring several different programs. The Lilly Fellows Mentoring Program, which strives to renew and deepen the commitment of institutions and their leaders to central intellectual and spiritual concerns, is among the most popular and successful of all the program's initiatives.
The program awards grants to members of the National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, which currently consists of 91 institutions. Askeland, who serves on the National Network Board, suggested that Wittenberg apply for the Lilly grant.
"Their goal is not to turn every church-related school into a seminary," Askeland said, "but rather, to allow schools to explore the relationship between their school and church — help them figure out their mission."
The redesigned faculty mentorship program will pair five senior Wittenberg faculty members with new tenure-track faculty outside of their departments for one year. Faculty members must apply to be part of the program. The Lilly Fellows grant reimburse participants of the mentorship program for the costs of childcare, as well as other necessary expenses incurred over the year.
During that time, the senior faculty mentors will work with their mentees to realize the mission of Wittenberg University and help them integrate the school's mission into their classrooms and their personal career goals.
"The purpose of the program is to help new faculty understand the values and practices of a small liberal arts institution," Buckman said. "This can be especially helpful for faculty coming from large graduate schools."
The mentors will meet in the fall for a two-day off-campus retreat to design the curriculum for the mentorship program. At that time, the mentors will choose readings and speakers for the year. Mentees and mentors will then meet for a five-meeting seminar in the spring to discuss the readings and present on specific topics.
Funds from the Lilly Fellows grant will also support speaker presentations at two lunch meetings in the fall and spring. These presentations will examine Wittenberg's mission and are open to all faculty.
The grant will fund the first two years of Wittenberg's faculty mentorship program. At that point, Wittenberg will evaluate the program and decide its future course.
"In an institution like Wittenberg, faculty often stay for their whole careers," Buckman said. "An investment in faculty in the beginning can pay dividends over the next 30 years."
Written by: Christi Lue '09 and Gabrielle Antoniadis