Ralston Hall

Faculty Development

Faculty Mentoring Program Description/Overview

The faculty mentoring program is designed to support faculty growth and development through enhancing both teaching and scholarship. Our program strengthens and enhances current practices while creating an important ongoing dialogue about innovative ways that faculty can together engage in continuous learning and improvement.

Building Supportive Relationships

Mentor relationships introduce an ongoing dialogue and a reciprocity. The mentor may act as advisor, role model, coach, or advocate; may switch between roles as appropriate to the need; and may in turn receive as much or more from a relationship that is intended to be one that is grounded in dialogue and solicitude. Three possible roles are envisioned and described below, though individuals and teams may take on multiple tasks or create new ones as relationships emerge.  In addition to matching individuals for specific interests or needs, the mentoring program works to create “constellations” of encouragement and assistance through meetings, sponsored discussions, and other intentional and evolving networks of support.

Mentor Roles Include:

  • Scholarship support. Mentor teams within a shared discipline may collaborate on ideas for scholarship, share resources, or simply share needed conversations about the topics that stir our passions for this work.
  • Pedagogical support. In our roles as teachers, we face change expectations from students who are enthusiastic about new technology, anticipate different academic outcomes, or present unexpected challenges. Sharing these challenges creates an opportunity to share solutions.
  • Logistical support. What seems obvious about the academic year for seasoned faculty and staff may seem bewildering to those who are new. Advice and support about the academic calendar, using campus technology, or even finding parking can be essential to feeling supported.

Program Implementation

Both members of the mentor teams volunteer for this role, though Program Directors and Department Chairs should encourage new Full and Part Time Faculty to participate. The initial commitment is for a full academic year. Specific pairings may be requested or individuals may ask the Faculty Development Committee to craft support for a specific need. Once established, teams work together to create the relationship; suggestions include meeting at least twice a month, classroom visits, sharing syllabi, and more; these details are initially determined during the annual mentoring kick-off session, which occurs during the month of September.

Mission Mentoring

In collaboration with the Faculty Development Committee, NDNU’s Mission Integration Council offers Mission Mentoring. The Mission Mentoring program is available to all full-time and part-time faculty.

What is “mission mentoring,” you ask? The goal of this program is to empower all interested members of the faculty to integrate the mission of the university and the Hallmarks of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur into their academic courses in a more intentional manner.

“But I already do that in my classes,” you say? That’s excellent! Actually, a lot of our faculty already do “live the mission” in the way they teach their classes at NDNU… in some cases, that’s why they’re here. Our goal in that case would be to help make the connections between what you already do and how it reflects the mission and Hallmarks more explicit, both to you and to your students. (And if those connections are already explicit in your classes, please consider volunteering to be one of our Mission Mentors!)

“I don’t even know what the mission is but I’m intrigued,” you say? That’s excellent, too. You can read the mission and Hallmarks in the “About us” section of the NDNU website. One of our Mission Mentors will work with you one on one to explore opportunities to integrate mission and Hallmarks into a specific course that you already teach and help you develop appropriate course materials.

“My classes are already busy enough and I can’t add in an extra assignment,” you object? No problem… we will work with you to modify an element of your course rather than augment it. The faculty members who served as our “guinea pigs” found that including an explicit discussion of mission and/or Hallmarks served as a powerful motivator that actually enhanced student learning without sacrificing course content.

“Do I have to be a Catholic,” you wonder? Not at all. Our student body at NDNU is an amazing gem of diversity. The way we live the mission and the Hallmarks through our academic work should reflect, nurture, challenge and ultimately strengthen that diversity.

“OK, I’m in… what do I do?” you ask? Easy: email Patti Andrews at pandrews@ndnu.edu and let her know that you are interested.


The faculty mentoring program was launched in spring 2012. Following are testimonials from participants, representing both members of the mentor teams and both full and part time faculty members:

  • “I teach at several places. As a result of this program, I feel so much more connected to this university than to the others.”
  • “The things that my mentor says stay in my mind all week.”
  • “You forget what enthusiasm you have about the topic. Plato talks about the Eros – this is it; this is great! It reminds me why I wanted to teach in this field in the first place.”

Active Mentors

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