JULY 28, 2023 — The UTSA Division of Academic Affairs has released a plan for implementing best practices for faculty mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that is commensurate with the university’s classification as a Carnegie R1 university.
“Graduate education and graduate students in particular are integral to our vision and success as a premier public research university,” said Ambika Mathur, UTSA senior vice provost for Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies and graduate dean. “Moreover, the doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows being trained at UTSA are our future colleagues and future leaders in their disciplines; as such, their success is a top priority.”
The plan comes in response to a charge by UTSA President Taylor Eighmy earlier this year toward advancing a culture of respect and accountability at UTSA, and it sets forth specific principles that all UTSA trainees should expect in their roles, including the following:
- Trainees will receive mentoring and supervision that is structured, regular and appropriate for their career stage, as well as constructive and timely feedback from their mentors.
- Trainees will be supported in establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
- Trainees will have their academic freedom respected and supported, and will be appropriately acknowledged as contributors for all scholarly work for which they have made substantive contributions.
- Trainees will have opportunities for career development outside of the mentor-mentee relationship.
- Trainees will work in an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and discrimination, and will have safe methods to seek help from administrative leaders without fear of retribution.
Notably, the plan calls for requiring structured mentorship training for all graduate faculty at UTSA, and for establishing written compacts within the first year of training (to be revisited annually) to codify expectations of the student and faculty member, as well as the college, unit and graduate advisor of record.
“We are committed to growing a culture of continuous improvement so that UTSA can continue to recruit and support the best graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and prepare them to be leaders in their fields,” said Heather Shipley, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “Accordingly, our faculty mentors must model the best scholarly, pedagogical and ethical standards of their discipline.”
The plan was developed by a committee including Shipley, Mathur and the deans from each academic college, as well as additional representation from Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, and Research and Economic Development.
The full plan, which sets forth timelines and metrics for demonstrating success of specific measures, is available on the Academic Affairs website.