Faculty Mentors

President's Postdoctoral Fellowship mentors are tenured faculty who are expected to (1) take an active role in helping the fellow to plan and achieve his or her research goals, (2) assist the fellow in establishing a visible presence in department, (3) facilitate opportunities for the fellow to participate in national and international research meetings, (4) encourage the fellow to focus full-time on research and avoid other commitments such as teaching or outside employment, (5) assist the fellow in seeking opportunities to present papers or to interview for faculty positions at the other campuses, and (6) attend the program professional development activities such as an annual gathering.
 
The program encourages mentors to meet with their fellows 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 his or her work.
 
Mentors may also play an important role in advising fellows about the academic job market and making connections to related departments at other campuses that may be interested in the fellow for a faculty appointment. At the University of Minnespta, departments that are interested in considering applicants for faculty appointments should contact the fellowship program office (ppfp@umn.edu).

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are the expectations of the faculty mentors during the fellowship?
A: Presidents Postdoctoral Fellowship mentors are usually tenured faculty who are expected to:
  • take an active role in helping the fellow plan and achieve his or her research goals;
  • assist the fellow in establishing a visible presence in the department;
  • facilitate opportunities for the fellow to participate in national and international research meetings;
  • encourage the fellow to focus full-time on research and avoid other commitments, such as teaching or outside employment;
  • assist the fellow in seeking opportunities to present papers or to interview for faculty positions at other doctoral-research extensive institutions;
  • attend Office of Postdoctoral Affairs career development events and individual consultations.
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, including encouraging the fellow to complete and providing feedback on an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The mentor should not expect to meet all of the fellow’s career development needs personally, but should provide a framework to ensure that the fellow has access to a broad academic network to support his or her work.
 
Mentors may also play an important role in advising fellows about the academic job market and making connections to related departments. At UMN, the expectation is that departments will consider applicants for faculty appointments.
Q: Are assistant professors allowed to be faculty mentors?
A: The program encourages applicants to select a tenured faculty member as their mentor. However, in some cases assistant professors can be excellent prospective mentors. Such cases should be addressed in the department chair’s recommendation letter.
Q: May applicants select a faculty mentor from their current department or campus?
A: No. The program encourages applicants to look for a mentor outside their current department and home campus unless they can articulate a strong reason for remaining in the same academic location. For the UMN program, this FAQ only applies to current UMN PhD students, postdocs, etc. who are interested in applying to the UMN President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program; applicants from other institutions (i.e., not UMN) should identify a mentor in the most appropriate UMN academic department.
Q: Can applicants select a retired faculty member to be their faculty mentor?
A: No. The program encourages applicants to select an active faculty member as their mentor.
Q: Can a faculty member serve as a mentor for more than one applicant?
A: 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?
A: 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;
  • Expected coursework, 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: Does the applicant need a letter of support from the department chair/head?
A: Yes. The President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program office, in concert with the proposed faculty mentor, will request a letter of support from the department chair/head. This separate letter should describe the applicant’s fit within the department, the value of the research and scholarship in the department’s strategic plan, and possibly hiring the applicant into a tenure-track position and/or identify a potential fit with another UMN department, if appropriate.
Q: I have received an electronic request for a recommendation letter, but have not previously been contacted by the applicant. How do I proceed?
A: Candidates must contact and work with faculty mentors before submitting online applications. If you receive an electronic request for a recommendation letter for a President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program applicant who has not contacted you prior to submitting an application, please inform us via ppfp@umn.edu; no further action is required on your part. Such candidates are ineligible for the program.

Application

Q: How do I submit a recommendation letter?
A. After a candidate submits their application, an automatic email will be generated by the application system that will include a unique url and instructions for submitting your recommendation letter. If you do not receive such an email, please check your spam folder. In the event that you cannot locate the url, please email ppfp@umn.edu.
If you receive an electronic request for a recommendation letter for a President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program applicant who has not contacted you prior to submitting an application, please inform us via ppfp@umn.edu; no further action is required on your part. Such candidates are ineligible for the program.
Q: How will the applicant know when the faculty mentor and reference letter(s) have been uploaded to the online application?
A: The applicant will receive email confirmations from the online application system each time a letter is uploaded to the application. The applicant can check on the status of the application, including the arrival of the mentor and reference letters using the username and password they created and returning to the application information page.
Q: What are the application and letter deadlines?
A. Refer to current critical date information here: faculty.umn.edu/presidentspostdoc

Review and Selection

Q: If the applicant is unable to relocate because of family reasons, can s/he still apply?
A: No. The program requires that fellows be in residence at UMN.
Q: What are the expectations of UMN host departments?

A: Host departments are encouraged to welcome the fellow into the department and make every effort to ensure that the fellow is included in communications about departmental colloquia, seminars and social events. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with information about salary and benefits and administer the fellow’s research and professional travel funds. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with access to appropriate office space and routine administrative support such as telephone lines, departmental mail services, libraries and technical support.