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Searle Fellows

The Searle Fellows Program is a time-honored Northwestern professional development initiative that recognizes and supports the great promise of early career faculty members who will make significant and long-term contributions to Northwestern University. 

Since 1999, the Searle Fellows Program’s mission has been to cultivate a community of learning & teaching leaders at Northwestern who center equity/excellence through pedagogical experimentation, critical reflection, and joyful celebration. Over 300 faculty have completed the Searle Fellows Program since its inception. 

Participation in the Searle Fellows Program is often highlighted in promotion and tenure dossiers. Past participants routinely report a positive impact of their participation on the progress of their academic careers. 

Applications to join the 2022-23 AY cohort of Searle Fellows are due by June 15, 2023Any early career faculty member with a minimum of two years at Northwestern who is working towards their next career milestone is eligible to apply.

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Program Overview

During the academic year, Searle Fellows build an interdisciplinary community with other Fellows and receive personalized coaching from Searle educational developers and a faculty mentor of their choosing. 

Each quarter, Searle Fellows participate in four types of program events—a day-long retreat, an afternoon Teaching Salon, a working group session, and a meeting with their faculty mentor. These gatherings support Fellows’ development of a program teaching portfolio centered on a self-selected learning and teaching project, such as revising an assignment or course, developing a pedagogy-focused scholarly article, or conducting a learning assessment. Based on feedback from alumni, interested participants no longer need a project proposal at the time of application; they will develop their project focus as part of the program. In support the goal of cultivating learning and teaching leaders, Fellows also share their project in a public venue, such as a talk or workshop for their department, a proposal for a conference, or an article submission. We end the year with a recognition ceremony and celebration, attended by current fellows, mentors, and University dignitaries. 

Along the way, participants receive thought-provoking books on learning and teaching to add to their personal libraries and upon successful completion of the program, a certificate of recognition.

Program Requirements

To successfully complete the Searle Fellows Program and receive the certificate, participants must complete the following requirements:

  1. Attend the Kick-Off Retreat
  2. Attend a Fall Mentoring Meeting
  3. Attend a Fall Project Group Meeting
  4. Attend the Winter Retreat
  5. Attend a Winter Mentoring Meeting
  6. Attend two Winter Project Group Meetings
  7. Attend the Spring Retreat 
  8. Attend a Spring Mentoring Meeting
  9. Attend a Spring Project Group Meeting
  10. Share Project in a Public Venue
  11. Complete the program ePortfolio

In addition to the required components, Searle Fellows are encouraged to attend quarterly Teaching Salons focused on "big ideas" in learning and teaching and the Spring program ceremony and celebration. 

Specific dates and times of events for the next academic year are outlined in the How to Apply section.

Faculty Mentors

Upon acceptance into the Searle Fellows Program, each new Searle Fellow recruits a senior faculty member to be their mentor throughout their time in the program. If you need help identifying a mentor, reach out to the Searle Fellows Program or your department chair.

Faculty Mentors play an important role in supporting Fellows' project development, often providing sponsorship for the public sharing of their work, and in engaging in conversations focused on critical reflection of each one's teaching philosophy and practice. 

Faculty Mentor Expectations

Because of the value in cultivating a strong mentoring relationship, the Searle Fellows Program is committed to creating an enriching experience for the Faculty Mentor as well. Each faculty mentor can expect that by participating as a mentor, they will make progress towards the following goals:

  1. Engaging in culturally aware conversations about learning and teaching with each mentee.
  2. Critically reflecting on the alignment of their mentoring philosophy, practices, and positionality.
  3. Leveraging sponsorship opportunities to endorse, amplify, and advocate for each mentee within the mentor’s extended networks.

Faculty Mentor Requirements

To ensure an equitable experience for all Searle Fellows, we ask that Faculty Mentors commit to the following program activities:

  1. Attend the Fall Kick-Off Retreat
  2. Attend the morning session of the Winter Retreat
  3. Attend the morning session of the Spring Retreat
  4. Meet at least once during Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters.

Faculty Mentors will also be invited to come to the quarterly Teaching Salons and Spring ceremony and celebration, though these are not required events.

Distinguished Faculty Mentor

michael-fagen.jpgMichael Fagen, PhD, MPH is the Searle Fellows Program's inaugural Distinguished Faculty Mentor (DFM). As an experienced Searle Fellow mentor, Mike has demonstrated commitment to mentoring early career faculty members who are seeking to advance their academic career goals.

To further elevate the critically important role that faculty mentors have played in the success of the Searle Fellows Program, the DFM coordinates the faculty mentors paired with Searle Fellows by developing resources, facilitating individual coaching sessions to build the faculty mentors’ skillsets, and hosting quarterly group conversations to discuss challenges and opportunities. 

Michael C Fagen is the Chief of Public Health Practice in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Professor of Preventive Medicine (Public Health Practice).

How to Apply to be a 2022-23 AY Searle Fellow


Any early career research- or teaching-line faculty member with a minimum of two years at Northwestern who is working towards their next career milestone is eligible to apply.

Application Requirements

Applications to join the 2022-23 AY Searle Fellows Cohort are due by June 15, 2023. Decision notifications will go out by July 1, 2023. Please secure approval from your department chair or dean before applying.

The application form will ask you for the following information and items:

  1. Contact Information: Name, Pronouns, NETID, Email, Role, Title, Department, School
  2. Attestation of your Department Chair's or Dean's approval to participate if accepted, including their name and email.
  3. A current draft of your Statement of Teaching or Teaching Philosophy
  4. Your CV
  5. Agreement that you will be available to attend the required Retreats in person (see below)

Unlike prior years, you do not need to have a project idea before applying. You will develop a project as part of the program.

Required Retreats

  • September 8, 2023: Kick-Off Retreat (10:00 AM-3:00 PM; in person)
  • December 12, 2023: Winter Retreat (10:00 AM-3:00 PM; in person)
  • April 19, 2024: Spring Retreat (10:00 AM-3:00 PM; in person)

You will coordinate with your faculty mentor and project working group to set dates for those quarterly required meetings.

Faculty Mentors are required to attend the Kick-Off Retreat and the morning sessions (10:00 AM-12:00 PM) of the Winter and Spring Retreats.

Optional Program Events

  • October 12, 2023: Fall Teaching Salon (3:00-4:30 PM; hybrid)
  • January 11, 2024: Winter Teaching Salon (3:00-4:30 PM; hybrid)
  • March 6, 2024: Spring Teaching Salon (3:00-4:30 PM; hybrid)
  • May 30, 2024: Celebration (3:00-4:30 PM; in person)
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