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Mentoring Mini-Grants

The Mutual Mentoring Model

Effective mentoring is one of a few common characteristics found across successful academic careers. The “traditional” model of mentoring--the model familiar to most faculty--is distinguished by a top-down, one-on-one relationship, in which an experienced faculty member guides and supports the career development of a new or early-career faculty member.


Mutual Mentoring, by contrast, distinguishes itself from the traditional model by encouraging the development of a broader, more flexible network of support tailored to meet the individual faculty member’s needs. Within this model, early-career faculty build robust networks by engaging multiple “mentoring partners” to address specific areas of knowledge and experience, such as research, teaching, tenure, and work-life balance.  These partnerships are designed to benefit not only the person traditionally known as the “protégé,” but also the person traditionally known as the “mentor,” thus building on the idea that all members of an academic community have something to teach and learn from each other.

 A typical Mutual Mentoring network may include any or all of these mentoring partners: Senior faculty, administrators, peers, near-peers, staff, students, off-campus connections, and others.


Mentoring Mini-Grant Program
Mentoring Mini-Grant Application

Mentoring Mini-Grants are intended to encourage tenure-track faculty to identify desirable areas for professional growth and opportunity and to develop mentoring partnership(s) to make such change(s) possible. As a “sophomore” mentoring experience, the Mentoring Mini-Grant Program is targeted to faculty in their second year of the tenure track. Mini-Grants are designed to promote purposeful career advancement, using mentoring as the medium to seek and exchange knowledge, resources, experiences, and opportunities across a small network.  Examples of possible Mentoring Mini-Grant projects include: bringing an off-campus mentoring partner to MSU Denver or traveling to his/her campus for in-person mentoring meetings; creating a small faculty writing group to peer review manuscripts or tenure portfolio components; sharing travel expenses to co-present with a mentoring partner at a professional conference, sponsoring meetings with colleagues from local or regional universities, etc.

Mentoring Mini-Grants provide support of $750. All second-year faculty on the tenure track are eligible to apply. Mini-grant funds will be transferred to PD funds that are managed in the Deans’ offices. All funds will need to be spent before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Click here for a description of Mutual Mentoring projects funded by Mini-Grants 

Criteria for selection

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Mission. Does the project build upon the Mutual Mentoring model to address one or more of the Priority Mentoring Areas defined below?
  2. Innovation. Does the project apply the concept of mentoring networks in a fresh, innovative way to address faculty needs? (This does not preclude replicating other successful projects).
  3. Action. Does the project include a plan of action that is realistic, practical, and fiscally responsible?
  4. Inclusion. Does the project bring faculty together in a way that respects, promotes, and encourages dialogue about diversity?
  5. Replication. Can the project serve as a model for mentoring in other individual, departmental, school, and interdisciplinary scenarios?


Priority Mentoring Areas

The following are priority mentoring areas identified through study of actual experiences and challenges of early career faculty at MSU Denver:

  • Getting to Know the Institution. Understanding the academic culture of departments, schools, and the institution; identifying resources to support research and teaching; and creating a trusted network of junior and senior colleagues.
  • Excelling at Teaching and Research. Finding support for research such as developing a research/writing plan, identifying sources of internal and external funding, soliciting feedback on manuscripts and grant proposals; and finding support for teaching such as developing new courses, pedagogical methods, technologies, and interdisciplinary curricula.
  • Understanding Tenure and Evaluation. Better understanding the specific steps of he tenure process, learning more about the criteria for evaluating research and teaching performance, finding support in developing the tenure portfolio, soliciting feedback on the quality and quantity of work through scheduled faculty reviews.
  • Creating Work-Life Balance. Prioritizing/balancing teaching, research, and service; finding support for goal setting; developing time management skills; attending to quality of life issues such as dual careers, childcare, and affordable housing.
  • Developing Professional Networks. Establishing substantive, career-enhancing relationships with faculty who share similar interests in research and/or teaching.  These faculty may be from MSU Denver departments and schools, and/or from other institutions.


Download your Mentoring Mini-Grant Application .

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