Carnegie Mellon University

Expectations for Faculty Mentors

President's Postdoctoral Fellowship mentors are usually tenured faculty who are expected to (1) take an active role in helping the fellow to plan and achieve their research or creative practice goals, (2) assist the fellow in establishing a visible presence in department, (3) facilitate opportunities for the fellow to participate in national and international meetings, (4) encourage the fellow to focus full-time on research and avoid other commitments such as teaching or outside employment, and (5) assist the fellow in seeking opportunities to present papers or to interview for faculty positions on campus.

The program encourages mentors to meet with their fellow at the beginning of the fellowship to discuss their working arrangements and consider appropriate long and short term goals for the term of the fellowship. The mentor should not expect to meet all of the fellow's career development needs personally, but should provide an overall framework to ensure that the fellow has access to a broad academic network to support their work.

Mentors may also play an important role in advising fellows about the academic job market and making connections to related departments that may be interested in the fellow for a faculty appointment. At the Carnegie Mellon University, departments that are interested in considering applicants for faculty appointments should contact the fellowship program office (

Please note: It is expected that departments and faculty mentors will make appropriate arrangements for space and other necessary resources.

Q: Are untenured professors allowed to be faculty mentors?
The program encourages applicants to select a tenured faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases untenured professors can be excellent prospective mentors.

Q: Can an applicant select a retired faculty member to be their faculty mentor?
The program encourages applicants to select an active faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases retired faculty who are still fully involved in their department and their research program are excellent prospective mentors.

Q: Can a faculty member serve as a mentor for more than one applicant?
Yes, faculty may serve as a mentor for more than one applicant for the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Q: What should be covered in the faculty mentor's letter of support?
The e-mail sent by the application system to faculty mentors will ask them to address the following in a letter of support:

  • applicant's planned research;
  • teaching expectations, if any;
  • extent to which the applicant will participate in departmental and campus academic activity (e.g., seminar programs);
  • extent of applicant's anticipated participation at national/international research meetings;
  • facilities and resources available to the fellow; and
  • mentor's involvement in mentoring for other programs designed to increase access and opportunity in higher education.

Q: What are the mentoring responsibilities of the home department and faculty mentor?
The home department should establish clear guidelines for providing suitable mentorship and networking support to the postdoctoral fellow. Both the postdoctoral fellow and the faculty mentor should also be provided with resources on best practices on mentoring and professional networking and a mentoring plan that should be revisited periodically by both together with the host department head.

Q: Are postdoctoral fellows expected to teach?
The President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is designed to provide new scholars with time to focus on research and publishing activities that will enhance their prospects for appointment as a tenure-track faculty member. The terms of the fellowships do not allow teaching without prior approval from the faculty mentor and the program director. It will be approved only if the teaching opportunity appears to serve the fellow's career development.