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Northwestern School of Communication

SoC Launches New Early Faculty Mentorship Program

speaker at podiumAn invitation to teach in the School of Communication is a coveted honor, yet for post-doctoral fellows, PhD candidates, and early career faculty, the process can be fraught with questions about resources, pathways to advancement, and research funding.

To address these concerns, the School will launch this fall CommFutures: The SoC Mentoring and Development Initiative, a program of conversations and workshops designed to provide guidance and support to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty just beginning in their fields.

“We hope to establish a culture of mentorship and career development that includes equitable and accessible resources for all our faculty,” says Bonnie Martin-Harris, the Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs in the School of Communication. “We understand faculty arrive with varied knowledge and skills about how to identify funding sources to support creative work or laboratories, develop and write a research grant, and construct teaching, research, and creative statements in preparation for a successful tenure review process. This series of initiatives has been strategically crafted for our diverse pipeline of emerging scholars and artists.”

Spearheaded by Dean E. Patrick Johnson and organized by Martin-Harris and Sumit Dhar, the Associate Dean for Research in the SoC, the program fits into the larger framework of initiatives intended to make the School more equitable, accessible, and supportive for all. CommFutures will include a mentorship and faculty development committee with representation from each department.

“Our faculty is composed of the preeminent leaders in their respective fields, and our effort is to create a mechanism that allows those starting out to inherit the lessons from the wisdom of those who have traveled similar paths before,” Dhar says. “This is a recognition of how important it is for new faculty to have a network of mentors and peers that can not only provide career support but be a source of emotional and mental support, especially now as we’re still mired in the coronavirus pandemic.”

The School of Communication has nearly 180 faculty members and a strong cohort of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. In addition to the hands-on guidance, the School will be creating an online repository of resources and forms easily accessed by all faculty.

“CommFutures is an integral part of our larger strategic goal of prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the SoC,” says Dean Johnson. “Oftentimes we think of DEI in terms of the student experience, but that is directly influenced by the faces and voices in front of them teaching. When we equitably empower our faculty across all ranks and improve recruitment, this in turn has a profound impact on the learning outcomes of our student populations as well as the career trajectory of a faculty member over the course of their career.”

The Fall Quarter’s CommFutures events fall on Mondays from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Invitations will be sent for each and RSVPs are required. The topics are as follows.

October 5: The Review, Promotion, and Tenure Process — Science
Hosts: Bonnie Martin-Harris and Sumit Dhar
Guest: Molly Losh
Audience: SoC pre-tenure faculty.
Location: Remote/Allen Center

October 12: National Science Foundation/Corporate Funding
Speakers: Leslie DeChurch, Darren Gergle,
Audience: PhD students, Postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty.
Location: Remote/FSB 1-180

October 19: Foundation Funding
Speakers: AJ Cristian and Khloe Kang (Foundation Relations)
Audience: PhD students, Postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty.
Location: Remote/Ryan Dean’s Conference Room

October 26: The Review, Promotion, and Tenure Process – Arts and Humanities
Bonnie Martin-Harris and Sumit Dhar
Guest: E. Patrick Johnson
Audience: SoC pre-tenure faculty from Theatre, Performance Studies, Radio/Television/Film, and Communication Studies
Location: Remote/Allen Center

November 30: National Institutes of Health/Veterans Affairs Funding
Speakers: Bonnie Martin-Harris, Nina Kraus, Megan Roberts
Audience: PhD students, Postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty.
Location: Remote/FSB 1-180

More CommFutures updates and events will be forthcoming.