Skip to main content

IDEA Scholars

The IDEA Scholars Mentoring and Leadership Coaching Program is a faculty mentoring and academic leadership development program designed to promote the success of Northwestern University’s mid-career faculty (e.g., tenured associate professors/6+ years experience) while developing a path to leadership.

Note: This program differs from the Mid-Career Faculty Institute Program, which is open to all tenured associate professors. Faculty who are in the 2022-23 MCFI Cohort (and future cohorts) are also welcome to apply and participate in the IDEA Scholars program.

MEET The current cohort


The IDEA Scholars program seeks to be a proactive part of the pathway-to-leadership solution. Geared toward mid-career faculty members who identify as underrepresented at the university, participants are afforded access to invaluable academic and professional development experiences to provide them with a ‘peek behind the leadership curtain.’ The result is an empowered faculty who can make informed decisions about their leadership trajectory.

IDEA Scholars will benefit from:

  • dedicated mentoring by full professor faculty leaders,
  • one-on-one executive leadership coaching,
  • access to a suite of resources (e.g., leadership, wellness, productivity),
  • engagement with a robust network of renowned scholars from Northwestern University and across the nation.

IDEA Scholars is a cross-school initiative. With a target cohort of 20 mid-career faculty per year, IDEA Scholars benefit from a dedicated professional development experience.

In addition to mentoring as coordinated by OIDI, IDEA Scholars will benefit from a bespoke leadership cultivation experience that includes identifying relevant leaders (e.g, Vice/Presidents, Associate/Provosts, Institute Directors, Chairs, Associate/Deans), programs (e.g., Center for Leadership), and external partners (e.g., Cornell leadership certificate; Harvard MDP) that will lead to informed, empowered faculty as they make decisions about their timeline to full professor and, perhaps, a path to leadership.

Mentoring Team

Comprised of three members for two years: 1) the IDEA Scholar, 2) Internal Leadership Mentor, and 3) External Eminent Leader Mentor.

IDEA Scholar

  • Engage in leadership networking opportunities, develop a career plan, and heighten their professional visibility in preparation for promotion.
  • Actively engage with their NU Internal Leadership Mentor and External Eminent Leader mentor.

Internal Leadership Mentor

  • Provide support and guidance as IDEA Scholar cultivates strategies to effectively interact with their unit and the institution. Mentoring should have a lasting impact on the retention and promotion of the IDEA Scholar.
  • To facilitate this professional relationship, $750 in funds are provided to the IDEA Scholar in the winter and fall quarters to help defray the costs of meeting expenses (e.g., coffee, meals).

External Eminent Leader Mentor

  • Prominent leader in the IDEA Scholar’s area of leadership interest. The IDEA Scholar may travel for a face-to-face meeting with their Eminent Leader Mentor. Likewise, the Eminent Scholar Mentor may be invited to travel to Northwestern University.
  • As an added benefit for the Eminent Scholar Mentor, if they choose, during their visit to Northwestern, can give a presentation on their research and/or leadership roles. $2000 per year to facilitate relationship.