Professional Coaching for Duke Faculty

Duke Faculty Advancement offers two programs for faculty members to receive professional coaching from Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, director of faculty mentoring and coaching programs. Faculty may apply for 1:1 coaching with the nomination of their department chair. Any faculty member may sign up directly for group coaching.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a series of confidential, structured conversations that help people reflect on complex situations, navigate challenges, enhance self-awareness, set goals and exercise accountability for meeting those goals. Through active listening and open-ended questions, a coach engages individuals in a creative process to help them identify and achieve their highest potential.

Coaching can be especially beneficial to faculty members who have already established a successful academic career and would benefit from dedicated time to focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Transitioning to new stages of a faculty career, or taking on new projects or opportunities
  • Cultivating productive working relationships with colleagues, students/mentees or others
  • Strategically using time and resources to advance priorities
  • Enhancing productivity and creative problem-solving
  • Fostering work-life balance

What Isn’t Coaching?

Coaches do not give people advice, or tell them what to do.

The coach’s role is to empower you to generate ideas, solutions and plans.

Coaching is not mentoring.

Your mentors are typically people within your discipline who draw on their context-specific expertise to help you (which often includes giving advice).

Coaching is not remedial.

“Coachees” tend to be highly competent professionals who are dealing with the normal challenges of navigating a demanding and complex career path.

Who is the Coach?

Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, Ph.D., A.C.C., Director of Faculty Mentoring and Coaching Programs

Maria Wisdom.Maria LaMonaca Wisdom is a certified professional coach through the International Coaching Federation. Wisdom, herself formerly a tenured faculty member in English and author of a scholarly monograph, also brings several years of experience in faculty development from her previous role as executive director of a humanities institute at UNC–Chapel Hill.

She has published reflections on coaching faculty (“Beyond Productivity Hacks and Time-Management Tricks”) as well as graduate students (“Who’s Responsible for a Ph.D. Student’s Success?”) in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

How Can I Get Coaching?

Option 1: Faculty Group Coaching

Any faculty member (full time, tenure-track/tenured, or regular rank non-tenured) can sign up to be coached as part of a small, interdisciplinary group (four faculty total), prior to each academic semester (fall and spring cycles). Each “cycle” constitutes a preliminary 1:1 meeting with the coach, followed by four 90-minute group sessions, spaced three weeks apart, over the course of the semester.

An added benefit of the group format is that participants benefit from multiple perspectives and the opportunity to meet other faculty dealing with similar professional issues (in a confidential setting).

Faculty interested in group coaching can register here. They may also reach out Maria Wisdom ( directly for updates.

Option 2: Faculty 1:1 Coaching

Faculty can request nomination from their department chair or dean for a semester of 1:1 coaching (five 50-minute meetings) with Maria Wisdom. Please note that because this is a limited resource, chairs may make only one nomination per department/program, per semester. Any full-time, regular-rank faculty can be nominated.

In situations where demand for 1:1 coaching exceeds available slots, nominees can be placed on a waiting list for priority in a subsequent semester. We will also do our best to make sure that there is a broad representation of faculty (in terms of discipline, department, career stage and school) who can access this resource.

Coaching is a great investment in faculty and can help sustain productivity, morale and wellness. It can also be helpful for faculty navigating specific challenges related to teaching, advising/mentoring, research or another aspect of their role.

Nominations from chairs should be sent to Maria Wisdom ( and include the following information:

  • Why are you nominating this particular faculty member for coaching?
  • What would you hope to see for this faculty member, as a result of the coaching?
  • What concerns, if any, do you have about this faculty member’s potential to benefit from coaching?
  • What background issues or context might it be helpful for coach be aware of?

Upon receipt of nomination, the coach will reach out to the faculty member for a preliminary conversation about their goals for coaching.

Note: Not all situations or issues are appropriate for coaching. Faculty will take from the coaching whatever they bring to it; they need to be open to the process, and also able to commit the necessary time, energy and focus. It is the discretion of the coach (after a preliminary discussion with the nominee) to determine whether a faculty member will benefit from coaching.