We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.

—Cesar Chavez

In response to shrinking faculty development personnel budgets and as an acknowledgment of existing faculty expertise as a valuable human resource, Appalachian State University (in Boone, North Carolina) has invested in a faculty fellow model for inviting and growing new faculty development initiatives. In this model, the university’s center for teaching and learning (CTL) and the academic units (e.g., colleges) work together to identify unit/college specific faculty development needs and then faculty who might provide leadership related to those needs. For example, in the university’s largest unit, the College of Arts and Sciences, a recently appointed faculty fellow is seeking to assess and promote student success initiatives for non-traditional student populations. Through professional development, she hopes to increase the awareness and involvement of faculty in evidence-based teaching reforms as a means to enhance the quality of non-traditional student learning experiences. In the university’s College of Education, the dean appointed two faculty fellows, a Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives and then an Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellow. Each of these fellows receives one-quarter release time during each semester of the two-year appointment. While these fellows will, at times, work together, this article describes the initial work of the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives, who was charged with developing a comprehensive mentoring model that would serve the needs of faculty at all career stages in the College of Education.

At the start of the fellowship, the position responsibilities were described as follows:

  • assessing current college and department mentoring practices that focus on the professorial responsibilities of teaching, scholarly activities, and service/engagement;

  • developing a report of recommendations to be shared with college leadership (deans and department chairs) and colleagues;

  • developing a sustainable and intentional mentoring program that will provide for both formal and informal interactions, responsibilities, and best practices;

  • working directly with faculty to implement and institutionalize practices that enhance faculty success;

  • envisioning, supporting, and facilitating professional development initiatives to serve the needs of faculty and staff;

  • delivering professional development that actively enhances diversity and attends to the differences faculty and staff bring to the educational experience; and

  • collaborating on campus-wide faculty development efforts with faculty fellows and the CTL faculty and staff.

The purposes of this article are to (1) describe the theoretical models that guided the development of the program; (2) provide a research-based rationale for a context-based community development model of faculty support; (3) propose a set of principles for a context-based developmental community model of faculty support; (4) describe the process for developing a context-based mentoring model for faculty at all career levels; and (5) offer artifacts, tools, and activities that faculty developers and institutions may use or adapt for their own context-based communities of support.

In mathematics, an asymptote is a line that a curve approaches without ever reaching it. In social sciences and particularly in education, we embrace the idea of infinite improvability. We are always learning, growing, and stretching. Therefore, the development of this program model was influenced by a set of theories and frameworks that honor the asymptotic nature of programs that are constantly in a state of becoming. We acknowledge at the outset that this program model is not fixed or static but will always be evolving. As such, what we hope to describe here is the journey of development, the path we have taken toward (but never quite arriving at) the best possible model for our faculty community.

Our work has been influenced and informed by a collection of frameworks and theories that honor the simultaneous integration of top-down and bottom-up developmental approaches. Beck (2016) details the processes, strengths, and limitations of top-down program development models such as the prevention research cycle approach and the program theory approach. These models provide rigor and high-quality standards of evidence; however, they can lack not only generalizability but also sensitivity to real-world situations and communities. In addition, top-down models tend to leave program dissemination and adoption activities until the end of the development process. Bottom-up (or grassroots) models, Beck contends, are derived from the needs of specific communities and can, therefore, feel more relevant to program stakeholders. In addition, since stakeholders are involved throughout the process, dissemination and adoption of the program may have a greater chance of success, particularly if participants perceive that the innovation is advantageous to the community, compatible with community needs and values, flexible, and visible to adopters (Rogers, 2003). However, grassroots models can sometimes be difficult to implement. They can be time intensive and can sometimes stall when participants struggle to share power or agree on critical program components.

Like Beck (2016), we opted for an integrated approach to program development, one that combined qualities of top-down and bottom-up frameworks so that we could leverage empirical evidence as we also charted a course of action that was uniquely suited to meet the needs of our faculty community.

During the first semester of the fellowship, Dr. Tracy Smith, the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives in the College of Education and an author of this article, conducted a literature review; led and participated in college-wide meetings and faculty development events; collected informal interview data from stakeholders within the college; and met with other mentor coordinators across campus to gather data to inform the development of a custom mentoring model for the college. In addition, she analyzed internal documents such as the mission, vision, and strategic plan of the college as well as promotion and tenure guidelines from each department. As a result of these efforts, she developed an annotated bibliography, a set of presentations and handouts for describing the background and development of the model, a guidebook including a rationale and literature review, and a graphic representation of the model. Finally, she developed a set of 13 principles (a 14th was added in Year 2) to guide the continued development and implementation of the program. Dr. Melba Spooner, the dean who appointed Smith as faculty fellow, supported the idea and investment that the program would be more effective and successful if it were informed by appropriate research, theoretical perspectives, and community involvement. Year 1, therefore, served as a year of research and piloting activities with an induction cohort (faculty in their first and second years). Many of these first-year activities might be characterized as top-down approaches, especially program theory development (Chen, 2005; Wilder Research Group, 2009) and an action model. These approaches both involve systematic planning “for arranging staff, resources, settings, and support organizations in order to reach a target population and deliver intervention services” (Chen, 2005, p. 23). Program theory development requires the developer to align evaluation methods and program activities to the program theory. In our case, we also developed a logic model to represent our thinking. Certainly, it was useful to begin with a systematic approach because these methods allowed the program developers to gain a greater understanding of the needs of the community. However, we argue here that a program theory, no matter how carefully aligned its components to program activities and outcomes, is flat and toneless until it is enlivened by the timbres of its community’s voices.

Therefore, in addition to the work of the fellow, this developmental process has involved many other partners and experts. The College of Education’s dean serves as the program’s champion (Rogers, 2003; United States Patent and Trademark Office, n.d.). We have ongoing conversations with the university’s early career and mid-career coordinators. Individual female faculty of color and other underrepresented faculty have given generously of their time and attention and serve as mutual mentors and thought partners to our fellow. Our inclusive excellence (IE) liaisons and IE fellow, representatives from the university’s office of research, and faculty developers from other institutions provided feedback on various tools, processes, and activities.

The mentoring fellow meets regularly with the Administrative Council of the College, which includes the dean, associate deans, department chairs, and other unit leaders, to report on program progress as well as offer tools that they might use in their work with faculty. In fact, the two faculty fellows in the college have now been invited to be part of the college leadership team. Drawing from Rogers’s diffusion of innovation (DOI) strategies (2003), we have utilized champions, peer support, educational strategies, and especially the existing peer and community networks to shape and share our evolving model.

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) (Israel et al., 2010; Minkler, 2004; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2009) provided a way for us to narrow the gap between research and practice and helped us to solve practical problems related to faculty support by focusing primarily on real-world applications during program development. Minkler and Wallerstein (2008) describe CBPR as being based in a community and its needs rather than placed in a community. The summary of CBPR principles provided by Israel et al. (2010) were helpful in our continued program development because they espoused recognizing the community as a unit of identity; building on the strengths and resources within the community; facilitating collaborative, equitable partnerships in all phases of the research; promoting co-learning and capacity building among all stakeholders; integrating and achieving a balance between research and action; and developing systems through an interactive cycle. Furthermore, as we continued to move from theory to practice, we were influenced by the emerging field of implementation science, or the study of how programs are implemented in community settings. Implementation science focuses on identifying the barriers that arise and affect the implementation quality.

Our most challenging component of program development came when we sought to develop a plan for evaluation. Our backgrounds in educational research, including evaluation and accreditation processes, have conditioned us to align carefully our desired outcomes and our measures of success. Most evaluation models are summative. They evaluate success or achievement once implementation is completed. Developmental evaluation (Patton, 2008, 2011), however, has been identified for use in innovative settings that are in a state of continuous development and adaptation. The goal of developmental evaluation is to bring data forward to make decisions and guide choices throughout the process of development and implementation. Consistent with what we now recognize as our asymptotic approach, developmental evaluation is meant for program developers who are committed to ongoing development and never want to achieve a fixed state. Patton (2008, 2011) contends that developmental evaluation engages a variety of stakeholders in the developmental process and requires a commitment to a culture of innovation. With developmental evaluation, data are neither summative (end) nor formative (in process to an end) but rather support a more ongoing process of constant adaptation. Developmental evaluation invites an atmosphere of constant collection and integration of feedback, merging the processes of program development and evaluation.

While it has been critical to recognize and articulate the guiding theoretical assumptions of our program development, our program development process has also yielded practical tools (e.g., mentoring maps) and activities (e.g., articulating one’s professional purpose, mission, vision, and goals) (Robison, 2013) for faculty development. In the spirit of generosity that characterizes the educational development community, we hope, in this article, to share both our theoretical and practical learning experiences.

More Than Dyads: Toward a Developmental Model of Faculty Support

As has been mentioned, the program development process began with a literature review. Certainly, there is no shortage to the literature on mentoring. The challenge for us was to curate the most relevant literature. Drawing on the DOI principles (Rogers, 2003), we looked for literature that was compatible to our population’s needs and values. For more than 20 years, the conceptual framework of our college has been rooted in the idea that we are a community of practice: “Broadly defined, a community of practice is a web of individuals bound together by a common set of goals and values” (Reich College of Education, n.d., p. 1). As a community of practice, we have a shared commitment to engage in ongoing dialogue to create, refine, and revise our activities. “For the organization to remain effective,” our conceptual framework states, “our commitments must stay in the public domain so that all members share in their ongoing creation and application” (p. 1).

Traditionally, mentoring in higher education has involved dyadic relationships between novices and more experienced professionals who transmit knowledge, organizational culture, and experience to increase the novices’ capacity for success in the institution. Examples of this tradition include academic genealogies (Sugimoto et al., 2011) and mentoring lineages (Nakamura et al., 2009) that trace connections within academic fields. However, Yun et al. (2016) argue that the traditional, top-down, one-on-one mentoring relationship is not flexible enough to support the increasingly complex roles, responsibilities, identities, and needs of faculty. Furthermore, they assert that “we live in an era of networks, not hierarchies” (p. 450). In the past several years, Rockquemore’s (2016) NCFDD Mentoring Map has provided an illustration and conversation tool related to an emerging and evolving model of mentoring. The NCFDD Mentoring Map provides a visual representation of a concept that many academics have long experienced and suspected: mentoring doesn’t always happen best in pairs.

Psychologists, education researchers, and human resource developers have proposed concepts that further support the idea of mentoring networks. Examples of such networks include developmental networks (Dobrow et al., 2012); mentoring communities (Felten et al., 2013); mentoring circles (Darwin & Palmer, 2009); formation groups (Felten et al., 2013); mutual mentoring (Yun et al., 2016); and peer, group, or team mentoring (Gray & Birch, 2008; Vance, 2016). Mentoring communities, for example, are small, intergenerational groups “where the fundamental orientation of each member would be to support the aspirations of every other member, where we would help each other un-cover, strengthen, and manifest our deepest values in all our relationships, including those with our colleagues as well as with our students” (Felten et al., 2013, p. 4). In formation mentoring, colleagues reflect “on our work and life, remembering our callings, exploring meaning and purpose, clarifying personal values, and realigning our lives with them. The goal of a [formation mentoring community is] to use meaningful conversations to reinvigorate ourselves, our work, and, by extension, the academy” (Felten et al., 2013, p. x). In mutual mentoring, faculty develop a flexible, network-based model of support, working with multiple mentors who provide expertise in their respective areas (Yun et al., 2016). Mutual mentoring is believed to benefit faculty at every career stage and thereby generates benefits to the institution, including improved support for women and faculty of color and broader participation in mentoring activities (Yun et al., 2016). Mentoring networks highlight both the multiplicity of perspectives that an individual can leverage in a network as well as the significance of the development of the individuals involved in each interaction.

A network of mentors (Higgins & Kram, 2001; Rockquemore, 2013), unlike the more traditional mentor/protégé dyad model of mentoring, places individuals at the center of a process in which they fashion with intention and purpose a support system that provides a rich tapestry of perspectives. In mentoring work, we have found that many colleagues prefer the term communities over networks because they are concerned that networking as a verb connotes making connections solely for personal advancement. Mentoring community or communities, in contrast, implies a more open and perhaps reciprocal relationship. In contemporary mentoring, individuals benefit from identifying their community of mentors, those who provide feedback, sponsorship, accountability, professional development, safe space, and intellectual inspiration and stimulation. We have expanded this idea of community to include public intellectuals and virtual networks that serve as quasi-mentors and supports to faculty. The literature that frames mentoring and faculty support as a community enterprise is more compatible to our community values than a purely dyadic model. However, we do recognize that some ties within a mentoring community are stronger than others, and we invite faculty to analyze how those strong ties affect their own development, in both positive and negative ways.

In her book The Peak Performing Professor, Susan Robison (2013) writes about the importance of faculty knowing and using strategies that lead to a meaningful, productive, and fulfilling career. Citing authorities such as Bain (2004), Boice (2011), Gray (2010), and Walvoord (2008), Robison indicates that professors who understand the expectations of their various roles enjoy their jobs more than those who struggle with understanding or fulfilling their responsibilities. Furthermore, she indicates that the patterns and mindsets established early in the professor’s career are likely to continue. Professors who do not develop effective strategies “risk struggling with long work hours, low productivity, burnout, and dissatisfaction while those with more effective strategies are happier and more productive” (p. 219). The Reich College of Education Developmental Community Program has been designed to help new faculty get off to the best possible start as members of the college community as well as to support faculty at all career stages to establish and maintain healthy, productive, meaningful careers. In supporting each individual in our community, we also increase our “collective intelligence” and the capacity of our “innovation ecosystem” (Por, 2004) to make significant contributions to our local and global communities.

Both positive organizational scholarship (POS) and research in higher education mentoring assert that robust mentoring for individuals also positively impacts the organizations in which they work (Dobrow et al., 2012). Mentoring promotes professional accomplishments and personal well-being of employees and thus should be part of strategic and succession planning at any organization (Beach et al., 2016; Knippelmeyer & Torraco, 2007). Higher education institutions that do not invest time, effort, and financial resources to encourage their employees’ growth and development toward promotion may face the costly consequence of rehiring due to employee dissatisfaction or poor job performance (Vance, 2016). When institutions experience excessive fluctuation, time and energy that could be spent on institutional priorities are diverted to searches and a perpetual cycle of orienting new members to the campus community. Despite the importance of mentoring for individuals and institutions, many campus leaders consider mentoring to be an extra service or add-on career activity rather than a standard practice or expectation (Vance, 2016).

In their book, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, adult-developmental theorists Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (2016) describe the characteristics of organizations that are intentionally focused on developing the capabilities of people at work. Kegan and Lahey question the potential of programs such as executive coaching, mentoring, retreats, and leadership development programs because they are punctuated inputs, something extra beyond the normal flow of work, available to only select individuals (usually 5%–10%), and they make the individual rather than the organization the point of dynamic entry. Instead, these authors ask their readers to “imagine so valuing the importance of developing people’s capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersively sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey” (p. 5). The organization becomes an “incubator of capability.” In such an organization, individuals do not hide their weaknesses; rather, they are encouraged to share them within a trustworthy environment so that they can receive support in their growth. The characteristics of deliberately developmental organizations are consistent with our college’s long history and identity as a community of practice.

In spite of the seemingly compelling call from multiple organizational sectors, Montgomery (2017) notes that there is a “dearth of established, evidence-based tools for guiding individuals in determining their personal mentoring needs and/or establishing effective mentoring networks to support their aspirations and professional growth in an individual-centered mentoring framework” (p. 1). The Reich College of Education (RCOE) is committed to establishing career support as an integral component of its identity so that individual faculty members and the college’s organization can function with maximum capacity and impact. To this end, the model here emphasizes meaningful faculty support as an outcome of investment in our identity as a developmental community.

The model proposed and shared here includes a rationale in the form of guiding principles that are grounded in the most recent research as well as the codified and evolving identity of the college. In addition, the model includes a program theory, logic model, guidebook, personnel recommendations, mapping tool, implementation plan, evaluation plan, “lifeline of mentoring” plan, and sample faculty development exercises. In providing the rationale and roots of the model as well as artifacts that bring it to life, we hope that this model can continue to grow, change, and persist, even if changes in personnel, priorities, and/or budget threaten the sustainability of the program.

In sum, the developmental community model includes aspects of mentoring, but it is intended to benefit not only individuals within the community but also the organization as a community. In her review of program development literature and resources, Beck (2016) found great diversity related to content, format, and recommendations as well as their utility in guiding program development. One important recommendation that was consistent across these resources is that they all recommend the use of a logic model to represent the program theory and rationale.

From the literature, document review, and internal data collection, we developed a set of principles that became the foundation of our program theory (Wilder Research Group, 2009). The program theory is captured in a more expansive document that includes the 14 principles as well as activities, outcomes, and inputs aligned to each principle. The 14 principles are included here:

  1. The developmental community model fits with our Reich College of Education identity as a community of practice (see Reich College of Education Conceptual Framework).

  2. The developmental community model uses a mutuality approach, which draws on and promotes high-quality connections and relationship research in the positive organization scholarship (POS). This line of scholarship advocates the importance of high-quality connections, those “marked by mutual positive regard, trust, and active engagement on both sides” in all workplace relationships (Dutton, 2003).

  3. A developmental community model is associated with organizational benefits such as retention of faculty, job satisfaction, leadership development, organizational commitment, more learning, and an overall sense of optimism (see Dobrow et al., 2012).

  4. The developmental community model is an assets-based model because it supports a process of identifying the strengths within individuals and across the organization (see Carayol, 2017).

  5. The developmental community model supports individuals’ purpose, mission, vision, and goals (see Robison’s Pyramid of Power, 2013) and can thus be customized to meet individual needs.

  6. The developmental community model provides more “efficiency” of resources than a traditional dyad model and therefore eases the “service fatigue” inevitably faced by human services professors: “No single person is expected to possess the expertise required to help another person navigate the shoals of a faculty career” (Sorcinelli & Yun, 2007). (One example here might be that the induction cohort would conduct peer observations for one another.)

  7. The developmental community model acknowledges and leverages both intra- and extra-organizational supports. Some organization supports can be pre-populated on the DCM, in consultation with the Reich College of Education Administrative Council and other units such as the Center for Academic Excellence (the university’s CTL) and the Office for Research (see Dobrow et al., 2012).

  8. The developmental community model allows for flexibility in meeting the needs of individuals based on identity factors such as gender, age, and race as well as personality factors such as extroversion or introversion (see Crawford & Smith, 2005; Montgomery, 2017).

  9. The developmental community model is consistent with adult learning and developmental theory (Levinson et al., 1978).

  10. The developmental community model is a needs-based model and fosters agency and self-reflection.

  11. The developmental community model acknowledges contemporary work factors such as social, professional, and virtual networks that influence academics. For example, thought leaders can be “developers,” even if they are unaware that they appear on an individual’s DCM (see Cotton et al., 2011; Hamilton & Scandura, 2003; Kezar & Lester, 2009).

  12. The developmental community model acknowledges the complexity of the professoriate, including the teaching, research, and service aspects of this work. Furthermore, as the bar for teaching excellence and expectations for service and engagement seem higher among College of Education faculty, so, too, are the role models and supports available (see Yun et al., 2016).

  13. The developmental community model benefits protégés, developers, administrators, all members and participants in the organization. In addition, developmental networks overlap and interact in ways that can be dynamic and energizing to the organization and its members.

  14. The developmental community model acknowledges the norms of a white supremacy culture, including characteristics of perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, power hoarding, and especially individualism and seeks to incorporate antidotes and community practices to offset the harmful effects of these characteristics (Okun, 2013).

During the literature review phase of development, the authors found a mentoring program toolkit developed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, n.d.). While the ideology of the mentoring program implemented by the USPTO was quite different from that of the College of Education model, the toolkit was very helpful as a framework for developing program resources. The USPTO toolkit described the roles of mentoring program managers, mentors, mentees, and organization stakeholders. Furthermore, it includes 11 sections that outline the major steps in the process of developing a successful program as well as corresponding tips, tools, techniques, and advice presented in a practical manner. The format of this toolkit was useful and guided the fellow’s articulation of the COE program model. Because it outlines program components, history, and procedures, a guidebook, as it is called in this model, provides a stronger assurance that the program will continue even if there are changes in college leadership.

Also helpful in the development of components of this model were the program theory and logic models evaluation resources and templates of the Wilder Research Group (2009). Logic models have many benefits to program planners and developers. They can be helpful when describing the program to current or potential funders and partners; to illustrate the important features of a program approach to other stakeholders; to train program staff about the related theory and research; to control for “program drift” and sustainability; to provide a basis for evaluation tools; and to facilitate program management (including resources and inputs). The logic model for our developmental community program helped us to create and share a graphic representation of our situation/context and the program action, including inputs, outputs (activities and participation) as well as general outcomes/impact (short, medium, and long term).


To illustrate the program development process, we provide Table 1, which includes a timeline of program development activities, carried out mostly by the faculty fellow as well as the community-based participatory research that guided the initial development and the ongoing refinement and developmental evaluation process of this work. The initial appointment of the faculty fellow was for two years; therefore, we are providing major activities and developments for that time period.

Table 1.

Faculty Fellow and Community-Based Participatory Research Activities in Year 1 to Year 2

Program (theory) development and implementation activities Community-based participatory research activities
Work of the faculty fellow with support of dean Participant and stakeholder involvement
Summer–Fall 2019
• Professional reading and literature review
• Review of unit documents (mission, vision, conceptual framework)
• Draft of program elements in guidebook and rationale for model
• Review of Mentoring Map tools; development of map for the unit
 Member checking (internal to college): dean, director of doctoral program, three non-tenured faculty members
 Institutional reviews: CTL co-directors; early career mentoring coordinator; mid-career mentoring coordinator; CAS dean
 External reviews: educational developers from four different US states and Canada
Conducted activities for Induction Group/Co-Mentoring Cluster (faculty in Years 1–2)  Participation, engagement, and conversation with new faculty; responses and needs guided content of sessions.
Presented aspects of mid-career and leadership development to participants in the Academic Leadership Development Program (the institution’s leadership succession planning initiative)  Cohort members “tested” the developmental community model map during the workshop.
Tested versions of Mentoring Maps Early-career mentoring coordinator completed her own versions of the Community Development Map and annotated a copy; provided feedback on the template, especially feedback related to the early-career target population.
Spring 2020
Drafted program principles based on literature and unit documents  Member checking (internal to college): dean, director of doctoral program, two non-tenured faculty members, Administrative Council
 Institutional reviews: CTL co-directors; early career mentoring coordinator; mid-career mentoring coordinator
 External reviews: educational developers from four different US states and Canada
Tested next version of Mentoring Map Mid-career mentoring coordinator completed her own versions of the Community Development Map and annotated a copy; met with the faculty fellow to provide feedback on the template, especially feedback related to the mid-career target population.
Two individual female faculty of color who completed the mapping exercise met with the faculty fellow to provide commentary and feedback.
Community activities
 Reading group co-facilitated by fellow and her mentor
 Research Bonanza to help faculty articulate research agenda, explore funding, and find research collaborators
Participation from four of five departments, across all career levels
Conducted and evaluated by Office for Research; participation from all departments, doctoral students; two research partnerships established; data used to guide revisions to next event
Individual mentor/dyad
Served as a mentor to single faculty member in an allied department The mentee completed the map or a similar one on several occasions, dating each copy and meeting with fellow to discuss the map and provide feedback.
Piloted tools (e.g., Pyramid of Power, Community Development Map) Fellow met with the doctoral program director to discuss applicability of the developmental community to doctoral students and faculty advisors.
Fall 2020
Facilitated next Induction Group
• Hosted welcome session with new faculty and college leadership team
• Attended all first-semester sessions hosted by university CTL
• Individual consultations with new faculty, especially about setting a research agenda
CTL gathered data and evaluated their sessions; individual faculty created research plans and were provided feedback on written documents such as their curricula vitae.
Community activities
• Hosted Research Bonanza with Office of Research
• Facilitated meeting with doctoral directors and faculty
• Event attendance and evaluation
• Emerging research partnerships
• Faculty members considering their role in supporting doctoral students, especially supervising research and dissertations
 Co-developed and co-facilitated yearlong mid-career faculty learning community (partnership with CTL)
 Guided participants in collective readings and articulating their professional purpose, mission, vision, and goals
 Revised mapping tool and created a freeform mapping exercise
 Mid-year evaluation provided feedback about the efficacy of the sessions.
 CTL has indicated support, based on participant feedback, to make this a recurring faculty learning community opportunity.
 Revised model by adding a principle, activities, inputs, and outcomes related to acknowledging the norms of a white supremacy culture and incorporating antidotes and community practices to offset the harmful effects of these characteristics
 Fellow was invited and joined university committees, working groups, and grant groups to serve as member and/or mentoring consultant.
 Reviewed by a chairperson who was new to our community, a person of color, and an expert in counseling and human support
 Reviewed by our Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellow to be sure language of the principle is both supportive of and sensitive to the needs of faculty of color
 These initiatives are new; therefore, CBPR is still being conceptualized.
Spring 2021
Facilitated Induction Group activities
• Reading group
• Career self-assessments
• Third-year review panel
• Individual consultations
 The unit director of assessment is helping envision a tool for collecting feedback.
Continued facilitation of yearlong Mid-Career Faculty Group  First meeting conclusion of the group was that they do not necessarily need tangible products, that the work is in the meeting and challenging one another.
 Responded to faculty need in the pandemic: developed and piloted tools and processes requested by newer faculty:
 • Faculty fellow developed guidelines for writing a COVID-19 impact statement.
 • Faculty indicated a need for more clarity related to writing their annual faculty reviews; therefore, the faculty fellow created a process document for writing the AFR and hosted a voluntary writing session.
 One new faculty member volunteered to write a sample COVID-19 impact statement that was shared first in his department and then college-wide.
 Another new faculty member volunteered to curate a set of resources related to the impact of COVID-19 on faculty work.
 Faculty populated a spreadsheet with goals related to writing the AR, based on the process outlined by the faculty fellow; nine faculty attended the writing session and made progress on the AR.
 Faculty indicated that this was very helpful. The faculty fellow offered the process documents to all department chairs.
 Continued design of developmental evaluation
Reading about program evaluation
 The unit director of assessment is helping envision a system for developmental evaluation.

It seems important to note that campus operations and faculty workloads for the spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 semesters were deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Faculty were teaching in a variety of modes and settings. Our major partners (e.g., P-12 schools, community colleges) were also deeply affected. As an example, our faculty who conduct research in public schools were largely prohibited from conducting that research during this time. As a result of this context, we saw that some faculty were more drawn to community development activities while others felt they could not make time for this type of engagement. We recognize both (and more) as legitimate reactions to this situation. We also acknowledge that our developmental community model became mostly a virtual model for a year (at the time of this writing). We anticipate that our model will be even more robust when it can include more face-to-face engagement. Noting this and other contextual factors, the appointment of the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives has been extended for a second two-year term.

Program Model

To provide further details of our program model, we are including components of the program model from the RCOE Developmental Community program guidebook. The guidebook was inspired by the mentoring program toolkit developed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (n.d.).

Program Purpose and Description

The purpose of the RCOE Developmental Community program is to support faculty at all career levels so that they establish and maintain healthy, productive, and meaningful careers.

The RCOE Developmental Community: A Constellation of Possibilities includes experiences and tools to help faculty identify, cultivate, and extend their career support networks. In this model, individual faculty reflection and agency are encouraged as faculty members identify strong and existing as well as weak or missing “nodes” on their developmental community maps. The developmental community model, by mission and definition, must be continually reviewed and revised on both individual and collective levels as the needs of individuals and the community continue to evolve.

Program Scope

The lifeline of mentoring concept (Montgomery, 2017) consists of identifiable (and often predictable) stations along a planned career trajectory. Montgomery asserts that “to successfully traverse the lifeline requires a complex and comprehensive set of mentoring resources and expertise” (p. 3). She cites research indicating that mentoring networks are associated with long-term career outcomes, whereas top-down mentoring approaches tend to support short-term career goals. Similarly, the RCOE Developmental Community program is designed to provide support options for all members of the RCOE faculty community—in all career stages. At the outset, the program will prioritize the development of supports for faculty who are new to our community, but the program will continue to expand and will be necessarily flexible and nimble as the needs and interests of faculty as well as external demands change over time. In addition, with time, we hope to expand the Developmental Communities of Support program to non-tenure-track faculty, including adjuncts, and potentially staff members and students.

Table 2 highlights the program activities and opportunities that are currently planned for faculty at various career stages. Note that many of the programs are drawn from existing units and campus resources. Community-based participatory research is characterized, in part, by the use of community resources that are formalized as partnerships during program development.

Table 2.

Lifeline of Mentoring Signature Activities and Opportunities (Calderwood & Klaf, 2015)

Career stage College activities and opportunities Activities and opportunities with campus partners (e.g., CTL, Office of Research, Academic Affairs)
Year 1 Welcome meeting with college leadership team
Cultivating community among cohort members
Articulating purpose, mission, vision, goals
Mentoring your network of support
The Peak Performing Professor reading/study group (Year 1)
Coffee/lunch conversations with the dean, Director of Digital Teaching and Learning, doctoral directors, others based on needs and interests of group
Consultations with fellow: course design, feedback on progress toward tenure, feedback on curriculum vitae format and clarity
RCOE writing retreat
New faculty orientation
 Provost presentation on promotion and tenure
 Inclusive excellence sessions and resources
 CTL teaching resources (e.g., course design workshops)
Early career (Years 1–3)  Panel with successful third-year review candidates
 Department chairs work with faculty to match departmental mentors (as needed)
Meetings with mentors
Revise Community Development Map
Participation in early career offerings RCOE writing retreat
Early career writing retreat
Early career reading groups
Pre-tenure (Years 4–6)  Portfolio development workshops and consultations with Director of Digital Teaching and Learning
Revise Community Development Map
Meetings with mentors
RCOE writing retreat
Promotion/tenure workshops
Early career writing retreat
Early career reading groups
Mid-career (posttenure) Revise Community Development Map
Off-campus scholarly assignments (OCSA) coordinated by departments
Mid-career writing retreats
Mid-career faculty learning community
 Academic Leadership Development Program
Veteran/ senior career Off-campus scholarly assignments (OCSA) coordinated by departments Academic Leadership Development Program
All career levels  Annual review meetings with department chairs
 Inclusive excellence workshops and support
College reading groups
College research bonanza
 Scholarly writing assistance, training, and support (SWATS) weekly writing space
Course (re)design institutes
Quality matters training
Consultations and workshops with learning technology services Inclusive excellence workshops and support

Personnel Recommendations

In their published mentoring program toolkit, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (n.d.) advised that effective mentoring programs need a program manager as well as a senior-level champion. The program manager oversees the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program. The senior-level champion is responsible for communicating the purpose and need for the program to the organization’s stakeholders, seeking to obtain their support and ensuring that the benefits of the program are understood across the organization. Rogers (2003) also highlights the value of a program champion in the diffusion of innovative ideas and programs.

For this initial (2019–2021) development and implementation period, the program manager is designated as Tracy Smith, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Smith applied and was selected as Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives in spring 2019 and began a two-year term in fall 2019. Faculty fellows in the colleges serve as liaisons to the university’s CTL and often have a specialized focus that serves the needs of their specific colleges.

The senior-level champion of the program is Dr. Melba Spooner, dean of the Reich College of Education. Spooner selected a mentoring focus for the college’s faculty fellow because of her own extensive background in mentoring and because of her commitment to sustain and equip the faculty who work in the college to achieve excellence in their teaching, research, and service.

With consultation from the RCOE Administrative Council (chairs, associate deans, and dean), Smith is considering the establishment of an advisory board to support the initial implementation and evaluation of the RCOE Developmental Communities of Support initiative. Membership on the advisory board may have composition among the following:

  • representation from department chairs

  • representation from the college inclusive excellence liaisons and fellow

  • college teaching and/or mentoring award winners

  • college research award winners

  • college doctoral director

  • university CTL co-director

  • human resources representative for learning and organizational development

  • Office of Research and sponsored programs director

Career Planning Tools

During the first year of their work in RCOE, the induction cohort is invited to participate in activities hosted by our university CTL. Most of these activities take place in the first semester and include a multi-day orientation as well as monthly sessions during the fall semester that generally focus on promotion and tenure processes and the university’s commitment to inclusive excellence. During the second semester, the faculty fellow leads the induction cohort through some sessions that provide career planning tools. Individuals are encouraged to read a book together and to articulate their professional purpose, mission, vision, and goals—and to create a system for documenting and cataloging aspects of their career planning. Furthermore, they are guided in a developmental community mapping exercise so that they can visually represent their community of support and analyze the strengths and gaps of their support community.

After piloting the use of various map templates and soliciting feedback from multiple faculty and mentors, the faculty fellow created a freeform map exercise that allows individuals to design a map that meets their own unique needs. In addition, the guided exercise that faculty can complete on their own or in a facilitated session with other cohort members provides questions that allow them to analyze their maps. Currently, we are building a culture in our community in which faculty at all career levels use these tools to plan and reflect on their careers. In addition, the fellow is working with department chairs so that they might ask faculty members to bring these tools to their annual faculty review (AFR) meetings as a stimulus for formative feedback and dialogue.

Faculty members are encouraged to revisit these tools and statements each year at the time of their annual review and when they update their curricula vitae. Participants are encouraged to use a different copy of the map each time they review (or a different color of ink) so that they can see and reflect on the changes in their maps and networks across the span of their careers.

Evaluation Plan and Program Review

As was mentioned near the beginning of this article, a goal of this program is to be always in a state of becoming. As such, the evaluation of the program is guided by principles of community-based participatory research and developmental evaluation. Table 1 provided information about participant and stakeholder involvement and continuous feedback processes that guide program development and revision. In addition, the college dean has offered that the college’s director of assessment can help serve as a resource and input to envision additional evaluation processes and data collection procedures as the model continues to be refined. The logic model includes a section for “metrics” that the faculty fellow and assessment director are currently developing. Examples include adding further collaborators to the community, including Women in Educational Leadership and documentation of activities completed/implemented. We are also developing a more expanded document of program goals (for individuals and the organization) with aligned “how we will know” statements. As part of our community-based participatory research approach, we will ask for feedback on this document from our Administrative Council, faculty who have participated in induction and early-career activities, and other stakeholders. The faculty fellow also engages in ongoing feedback as follows:

  • In monthly updates to the Administrative Council, the fellow provides updates and seeks feedback on the next developmental or implementation steps of the program, whatever is current at the time. As a result of these updates, the fellow is often invited by one or more department chairs to have an additional conversation related to that update.

  • The faculty fellow also meets one to two times per semester with the co-directors of the CTL to let them know what is happening with the college model. In addition, she often copies these CTL directors on her email communications. As a result, the fellow has been invited to consult grant writers and recipients about mentoring aspects of their projects; to join a faculty working group on faculty recruitment and retention; and to attend the meetings of other mentoring coordinators on campus.

  • Since the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellow was appointed in the second year, the two fellows sometimes work together to plan programming and to ensure that the inclusive excellence and developmental community models are complementary to each other.

  • Most importantly, the fellow works to seek ongoing feedback from program participants in each activity, meeting, or event.

Next Steps

We have recently been identified by our Academic Affairs unit and provost as a pilot mentoring initiative, one that other units can observe and engage as they develop their respective mentoring programs. As such, we have identified some possible next steps and challenges for our program. We believe it would be useful to engage more unit and institutional collaborators in our program. To broaden our reach and leverage the creative capacity of our partners, we plan to create an advisory group that can provide additional ideas and feedback for our program.

Stith et al. (2006, as cited in Beck, 2016) also emphasize the importance of having adequate resources, training, technical assistance, and attention to evaluation during program implementation. They argue that for a program to be successful, those implementing the program need adequate resources for implementing it, including reliable funding and resources to sustain the life of the program. The developmental community model that we have developed draws first on existing resources and programming, bringing those programs to the attention of the community and highlights the benefits of both college and university signature activities. It also depends on the involvement of a faculty fellow; a senior administrator (as champion); and the technology, communications, and assessment expertise of existing personnel. All resources in higher education are squeezed at this moment, and we seek to be thoughtful stewards of our resources. Nonetheless, we will continue to seek opportunities to expand funding of our program through university budgeting processes and external grant opportunities. In fact, developing a careful program theory and logic model was part of our strategy to position ourselves with a solid rationale to request additional funding.

As has been mentioned, the faculty fellow has been reappointed for a second two-year term. During this time, she hopes to continue establishing the Developmental Communities of Support program into the culture of the college. She is working with departments on revisions to their promotion and tenure documents so that they value participation in communities of support as well as active mentoring of colleagues. She will continue to work with the college assessment director to design an evaluation system and set of tools that is matched to the developmental community model and that values the development of individuals as well as the organization. She will continue to provide support to new members of the community and expand and revise the development and distribution of practical tools for career planning and development as appropriate and necessary. Because this model is grounded in the idea that it is emerging and responsive to the needs of its community members, it is challenging and even ill advised to create plans that are overly resolute.

From our initial two-year development and implementation experiment, we feel that we are in a good place to continue this work of investing in our human resources. We believe that a situated model of mentoring and faculty support works well because it is easier to align a model or approach with the ideals and central work or focus of the community. More than two decades ago, our college did the work of articulating a conceptual framework, and though it has been regularly revisited and revised, it does provide a bit of a compass for our community as well as a centerpiece for critical conversations. Those who apply to work here are often implicitly and sometimes explicitly acknowledging their acceptance of our stated values.

We acknowledge that, in a college of education, a central focus may be easier to identify than in a larger, more diverse unit, such as a college of arts and sciences, yet the foundational principles and organizational framework provide ways to guide the process. With this in mind, it is important that readers consider what is meant by “community” for their respective situation and context.


Tracy Wilson Smith is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University and the 2017 recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Teaching Excellence Award. She is a Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives in the Reich College of Education where she focuses on experiential faculty development, mentoring constellations, participatory pedagogies for faculty and students, and transformative, humanizing online teaching and learning.

Melba Spooner, Ed.D. is Dean of the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. She earned her Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also holds a Management Development Program Certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.


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