Connected Colleagues Program

Overview: The Connected Colleagues Program sponsored by the Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching provides a structure through which tenure-track faculty members in their second and third year can connect with senior colleagues outside their departments. The program helps new colleagues learn more about Macalester, its history and culture, and develop a better understanding of the complexities, challenges and satisfactions of our professional lives as teacher/scholars. This program is intended to complement and broaden the mentoring that already occurs with chairs and other members of the new colleagues’ department. Connected Colleagues gives pre-tenure faculty members opportunities to discuss and reflect on their Macalester teaching, advising, and research experiences with a senior colleague who will not judge them nor make a summative review of the junior colleague. Thus, senior faculty who agree to serve in this program should not be asked to, nor agree to, write on behalf of their junior faculty Connected Colleague at either 3rd Year Review or Tenure Review.

Program Goals: The goals of the Connected Colleagues Program are to enhance faculty retention and strengthen the relationships that form the basis of a strong academic community. We hope to do this by:

  • Providing opportunities for new faculty to feel more connected to the Macalester community
  • Assisting new faculty in becoming successful teachers, scholars and college/disciplinary citizens
  • Helping new faculty cultivate satisfaction by discovering ways that Macalester can be a good place for them to do their life’s work.

Background: In 2004/05, as their institutional project for the Academic Leadership Seminar, Professors Karine Moe and Karen Saxe interviewed all pre-tenure faculty at Macalester and their chairs to assess the current mentoring environment. They discovered that mentoring experiences varied across department. Most pre-tenure faculty said they would value having a program that supplemented the mentoring that had already received through their departments. They also expressed their desire for senior faculty in other departments to reach out to them and to share their understanding of Macalester, its policies, culture, and history.

The 2007/08 Program: After further discussions with department chairs about their role in the mentoring process and discussions with members of the New Faculty Seminar, we created the Connected Colleagues program, which piloted in 2007/08. The program began in the fall term, 2007, with the selection of senior faculty as Connected Colleagues by the members of the New Faculty Seminar who wished to participate. 8 pairs of connected colleagues met throughout the year; 6 of these original pairs continued to meeting through the auspices of the program in 2008-2009.

The 2008/2009 Program: Starting in fall 2008, 8 additional faculty members from the latest cohort in the New Faculty Seminar chose to participate in the Connected Colleagues Program. We continued to consult with department chairs who had junior faculty connected colleagues; we also ran focus groups among pre-tenure faculty, who indicated wide satisfaction with the program as it is currently configured.

The 2009-2010 Program: Faculty members who are completing their first year at Macalester and would like to participate should consult with the Director of the Serie Center to jointly devise a list of four senior faculty members who they would like to meet with as their Connected Colleague. The Director will serve as intermediary and request participation by the senior colleagues.