Cultivating Faculty Success through Mentoring

The EnCircle Mentoring Program Promotes Connection and Community for Faculty

In the dynamic realm of academia, faculty members often face solitary challenges. Data consistently demonstrate that faculty mentoring is crucial to faculty success. However, not all faculty at CSU have access to mentors within their department. Additionally, mentoring resources tend to be concentrated among early career faculty, when mentoring and connection are essential across all stages of academic life. At CSU, the EnCircle (mentoring circle) program is revolutionizing faculty support. More than mentorship, EnCircle fosters community, resilience, and success among those interested in supporting women and non-binary faculty at CSU.

Women sit around a conference table talking.
Members of a Fall 2023 EnCircle.

EnCircle began in 2018 as collaboration between members of the Council for Gender Equity on the Faculty (CoGen) at CSU. EnCircle is designed to support faculty through a mentorship network across a variety of disciplines and appointment types. The program is open to faculty of all identities and career stages (tenured, pre-tenure, continuing, contract, and adjunct faculty) who seek to support women and non-binary faculty members. Mentoring circles are small groups of colleagues who mentor each other on a variety of topics over a 12-week period. Each circle is led by a non-faculty facilitator and includes a faculty coach co-facilitator. Over time, the EnCircle program has built its capacity to offer three distinct types of mentoring circles. Track 1 circles focus on the needs of early career faculty, with an emphasis on skill development related to time management and work-life balance. Track 2 circles provide support specifically focused on the experiences of faculty members of color at CSU. And Track 3 circles provide connection and community for faculty of all ranks and appointment types at CSU.

Across all three circle types, EnCircles work to cultivate a positive experience for participants by embracing core goals related to:

  • Community Building: EnCircle emphasizes community building through carefully curated mentoring circles. These circles offer a supportive space where participants connect, share experiences, and build meaningful relationships, among faculty from different areas of expertise and departments.
  • Exploring Relevant Topics for Faculty Success: Covering a breadth of topics, EnCircle ensures comprehensive support for faculty members. From tenure and promotion to work-life balance, the program addresses critical areas essential for academic success. Additionally, topics like workplace culture, collaboration, conflict management, and managing challenges provide valuable insights for overcoming obstacles.
  • Empowering Women and Non-Binary Faculty: EnCircle empowers faculty by offering guidance and resources tailored to the needs of women and non-binary individuals. Through targeted topics and content that address specific issues faced by underrepresented groups, the program promotes equity within academia.
  • Dynamic Discussions and Collaborations: EnCircle enhances traditional mentoring formats with collaborative connections. Whole group and small group discussions, along with partner meetings between sessions, facilitate meaningful dialogue and collaboration. This inclusive approach allows faculty members to navigate challenges and grow together.
  • Promoting Resilience and Well-Being: In addition to professional development, EnCircle prioritizes resilience and well-being. Discussions on work-life balance, stress management, and fostering positive environments equip participants with tools for personal and professional growth. By promoting holistic success, EnCircle supports faculty to thrive in all aspects of their careers.

EnCircle's Impact at CSU

Since its inception in 2018, more than 220 faculty have participated in 25+ circles at CSU. This equates to more than 225 hours of connection among EnCircle participants. Pre- and post-participation survey data collected from circles from over the last two years show that faculty report significant improvements in their sense of belonging, work-life balance, and feeling of connection at CSU. Additionally, the stories and feedback that EnCircle participants share highlights the value and meaning that faculty derive from their circle participation.

Table showing changes in EnCircle participant outcomes from 2022 to 2024.
Results from participant surveys pre- and post-EnCircle participation.

CSU’s EnCircle program is a testament to the transformative power of community, mentorship, and resilience in academia. By fostering belonging and well-being, EnCircle promotes success among faculty members and allows for the creation and exploration of mentorship beyond a traditional department model. As the program continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the academic landscape, empowering faculty to achieve new heights of fulfillment and achievement.


Author Information: This blog post was written by Ruth Beauchamp. Ruth is a leading education consultant, coach, and lead facilitator of the EnCircle program at CSU.