This new program focuses on developing a community of peers who can give and receive effective feedback to 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 structured conversations for solving problems around issues participants identify. This opportunity is open to all department chairs, school directors and associate deans in non-departmentally organized colleges.

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:


The first session will provide an overview of the program and model a Critical Friends session. We will also discuss best practices for mentoring and share additional resources available on campus. Sessions scheduled throughout the year will allow participants to self-select prior to the event whether they would like to share an issue.

Introductory Session

Tuesday, October 15  9:00 a.m.-10:30  a.m.  309AB Administration Building


Critical Friends Peer Mentoring Sessions

Tuesday, November 19  9:00 a.m.-10:30  a.m.  309AB Administration Building

Tuesday, January 14    9:00 a.m.-10:30  a.m.   443 Administration Building

Tuesday, February 25    9:00 a.m.-10:30  a.m.   443 Administration Building



Please register for any and or all sessions at: