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Provost's Small Group Faculty Mentoring Program

The Northwestern Provost’s Small Group Faculty Mentoring Program is a University-wide program that promotes career advancement, scholarly growth and well-being for early career faculty. Four principles undergird Northwestern’s mentoring, which should be intentional, inclusive, relational and holistic.


  • Provide a small-group mentoring experience for early career faculty to share and learn from peers, facilitated by highly respected senior faculty (both Evanston and Chicago campuses)
  • Provide an opportunity for early career faculty to explore, discuss and learn about topics relevant to their career trajectory at Northwestern, including but not limited to career advancement strategies, internal and external networking, problem solving/conflict resolution, integrating professional/personal roles and leadership development
  • Create an interdisciplinary community of scholars among early career faculty to expand their University and academic networks, and to build connections to colleagues and the University
  • Offer mentoring with a broad focus on career advancement, scholarly growth and well-being to complement department/school mentoring programs.

Interdisciplinary Small Groups

This program brings together a mix of faculty from different departments, units and schools to provide multidisciplinary perspectives as well as the opportunity to network with faculty in other departments. While departmental mentoring can best provide discipline-specific advice on journals, grants and other issues particular to the department, the Provost’s Faculty Mentoring Program provides an opportunity for confidential discussion of strategies for networking, resolving interpersonal conflict, saying no, University culture, mentoring graduate students, work/life boundaries and many other topics.

Group Composition

Small-group mentoring composed of five to seven junior faculty matched with a senior faculty member. Tenure-line and teaching-track/non-tenure-eligible faculty are grouped separately.


All events are expected to take place in person.

Provost's Small Group Faculty Mentoring Program Schedule
Mentor Training September
Program Kickoff Lunch and Mentee Training September
Monthly Small Group Lunch Meetings October-May
End-of-Year Lunch with the Provost June

The Role of the Mentor

Senior faculty mentors guide their mentee groups as mentees share and learn strategies for professional and psychosocial growth and approaching challenges. The mentor takes a coach approach, asking questions and encouraging the group to probe possible paths, think through goals, options and next steps, and to strategize how to find information and resources. Mentors educate themselves, actively listen, show interest and empathy, provide context and institutional knowledge, and help connect mentees to resources. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the group, the mentor is not expected to give specific advice or substantive feedback on projects such as on journal submissions, grant proposals or tenure dossiers, nor to think through research problems in the same way that a departmental mentor might.

Mentoring Across Differences

Effective mentoring across differences, whether rank, age, race, gender or other identity requires mentors to be open to thinking about inclusion, systemic bias, privilege and learning about different lived experiences. Mentees may have had different training or opportunities than the mentor, who can listen and help to demystify hidden rules and institutional culture. Mentors and mentees should work together to overcome biases. Mentors should take responsibility to educate themselves about biases, be aware of barriers that faculty of color and others negotiate in the academy, and be equipped to offer resources and strategies to support them.

Training and Resources

Mentors participate in a half-day training led by Adam Goodman, Director, Center for Leadership. The training includes the coach approach to mentoring, in which, by asking powerful questions, practicing active listening, and creating awareness, mentors can support mentees’ agency to learn and gain insight (rather than being told what to do). In addition, training explores best practices for mentoring across difference.

Adam Goodman also provides quarterly individual training check-ins with mentors and is available for consultation. Mentees receive training during the kick-off lunch. Additional resources, including readings, are provided for mentors and mentees.

The Provost’s Small Group Faculty Mentoring Program is part of a comprehensive set of programming for new and junior faculty, which includes a New Faculty welcome and workshops on research, teaching, and other topics.


All participants are asked to complete baseline, mid-point and final evaluations for program assessment and improvement.

For more information, please contact Joan Marie Johnson, Director for Faculty, at