This opportunity is open to all department chairs, school directors, associate deans in non-departmentally organized colleges and directors of academic programs similar to departments/schools.

This program will focus on developing a community of peers, by providing a venue to give and receive effective feedback and promote group problem solving.  Used at the Big Ten Academic Alliance Department Executive Officer (DEO) Training, the Critical Friends* model will be used to facilitate these structured problem solving conversations around particular topics or issues participants want to discuss.

The Critical Friends process focuses on developing collegial relationships, encouraging reflective practice, and rethinking leadership. This process is based in cooperative adult learning, which is often contrary to patterns established in work environments. It also addresses a situation in which many leaders find themselves – trained to work as independent units; certified as knowing all that is needed to know; feeling like the continuation of professional learning is not essential to the creation of an exciting, rich, learning environment; and that they are simply supervisors in the leadership role.

Critical in the context of the group is intended to mean “important” or “key” or “necessary.” Those who have used this process have found that many leaders are clumsy at being “critical.” They have further discovered that many leaders are trained to talk around and avoid difficult issues, not carefully confront them. The Critical Friends process provides an opportunity both to solicit and provide feedback in a manner that promotes reflective learning.

Retrieved from: Critical Friends: A Process Built on Reflection


Spring 2024 – Critical Friends Peer Mentoring Sessions

Thursday, January 25, 2024,  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, February 15, 2024,  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, March 14, 2024,  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, April 18, 2024,  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

The first session will provide a brief overview of the program, followed by at least one round of the Critical Friends model. Before each session, I will email to ask if anyone registered would like to share a current issue they are dealing with.

You do not need to commit to attending all sessions and can register to attend as they fit your schedule.

If you currently hold one of the named positions and have not received a personal invitation, please contact Cindi Leverich at