Underrepresented Scholars Mentorship Program, 2021-22

This new program will create a network of underrepresented scholars for professional mentorship and development. There is a pressing need to support diverse junior scholars in a broad range of activities as they progress through the ranks of academia, and institutions should create spaces of community where both joys and struggles can be shared and the unspoken expectations of the academy addressed. Early-career scholars of color, first-generation and other underrepresented academics are often called on to do uncompensated and unacknowledged emotional/interpersonal labor which can present significant obstacles to their professional advancement and, reciprocally, to their potentially transformative impact on the university as an institution. In its 18-month pilot phase beginning in late summer 2021 and extending through December 31, 2022, the Underrepresented Scholars Mentorship Program will support a small group of four early-career scholars from around the UC system, led by two to four tenured faculty mentors. Recent UCHRI programs—a major UC Diversity Symposium, a Residential Research Group on Disciplining Diversity, and a multi-year Digital Humanities program—illuminated the interest in cross-campus networks among underrepresented faculty, particularly across rank and discipline.

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.


Program Details

Bringing to bear critical insights from contemporary scholarship on race and inequality as well as ongoing formative input from participants, this new cross-campus mentorship program will address “invisible” or tacit aspects of faculty life not included in traditional training, which are nonetheless crucial for academic success. These might include common elements of faculty work, which nevertheless are experienced diversely: how to advocate for yourself in retention and salary renegotiations, merit and promotion files, disproportionate teaching loads, securing funding and time for advancement, sabbatical and leave policies, committee service, applying for funding, preparing tenure files, book manuscript development, engaged scholarship, diversity work, teaching, and advising graduate students, among other topics.

UCHRI will connect 4 young/mid-career scholars with senior scholar-mentors from UC campuses other than their own. The mentorship selection process will include the facilitation of one-on-one discussions between UCHRI and the mentees during June 2021, in order to identify appropriate mentors. Drawing upon mentees’ own suggestions, as well as UCHRI’s extensive UC-wide networks, mentors will be chosen based on their abilities to contribute experiential knowledge in the following key areas: 1) Professional advancement and tenure, 2) Research and publishing, and 3) Balancing teaching, advising, and service work. Mentors and mentees will have the opportunity to shape the foci of their meetings to the specific needs of the group.

Meeting over the course of Fall 2021 and throughout 2022, the group will engage in monthly meetings and webinars in order to discuss the issues most important to them. Leadership of each meeting will rotate amongst the mentors. Individual, quarterly check-ins with UCHRI’s research grants manager will help ensure that program insights are recorded in order to establish best practices for future groups. The goal will be to use these insights to help create future grant programs that are more responsive to the needs of underrepresented faculty. A pilot year, this first group of scholars will help shape prospective future years of the program. This program is meant to be expansive and supportive rather than burdensome, and thus does not require participants to produce a publication, public presentation, or any other tangible deliverable other than a brief report to help shape future iterations. UCHRI will assist with the compilation of the final report if desired by the group.

This is a pilot program. In future years, pending future funding, UCHRI hopes to expand the reach of the program by increasing the size of the group and the number of mentors. And building upon pilot program evaluations and feedback, we will continue to shape the program so that it’s responsive and engaged with the evolving concerns of current and future groups. As the program grows, we will also bring each year’s cohort into conversation with one another through a digital platform, so that the mentorship group expands in ways that enable further networking.

Application Details

  • Personal Bio (250 words or less)
  • Statement of purpose (3-4 pages)
    • Describe your positionality within the academy as you experience it. Please feel free to share any relevant information about your personal background that has had an impact on your experience as a scholar.
    • Explain why you want to be a part of this mentoring program, and what specific mentoring needs you have.
    • What would be the most important 2-3 topics that you’d like the program to explore/address? (The following are suggestions only, please feel free to add your own):
      • How to advocate for yourself in retention and salary renegotiations
      • Merit and promotion files
      • Disproportionate teaching loads
      • Securing funding and time for advancement
      • Sabbatical and leave policies, 
      • Committee service
      • Preparing tenure files
      • Book manuscript development
      • Engaged scholarship
      • Diversity work
      • Teaching
      • Advising graduate students
    • What questions do you have about the program? 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • List of ~2 names of potential (realistic) faculty mentors on a UC campus other than your own. Please include a brief explanation of why you’d like to work with this person.
    • UCHRI will draw from your suggestions and our UC-wide networks to select mentors, and will consult with awardees throughout the process to ensure a good fit.

For program related questions, please contact Shana Melnysyn, research grants manager, at smelnysyn@hri.uci.edu. Please include the name of the grant for which you need assistance.

For technical assistance, contact Submittable at support@submittable.com.