Background and Description of Support Circle
In the midst of the two 2020 crises – COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing protests against racial injustices – there has been much anxiety and stress among faculty, staff, and students on campus. In an effort to respond to these experiences and mitigate stress, the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence (Butler Center) created the ‘Support Circle’ as a care network in August 2020. This informal and flexible Support Circle, aimed at faculty, is to connect, build ties, and to be able to share experiences and ideas about coping in these times. It is about both, resilience and vulnerability. This is not intended to replace the formal counseling services, other mental health services, or other formal resources at Purdue. Integral to the success of faculty is institutional responsibility to provide care and support during these challenging times. The Support Circle is flexible and relies on group shared spaces for discussion, unlike the Coaching and Resource Network which was started in 2019 as a vertical dyadic mentoring structure.
In an update after a year, the Women’s Global Health Institute (WGHI) is a partner in organizing the Support Circle. The Butler Center will remain the lead and WGHI will be an equal collaborator starting August 2021. In this joint effort, we will extend the informal care network to focus on wellness and enable group and mutual mentoring as well as strategic advising of faculty, particularly women and women of color. The WGHI will work to include faculty whose research is focused on women’s health, potentially both physical and mental. The collaborative effort will promote a culture of care on campus, make wellness a key area of focus, and thus cultivate a space for faculty to share and discuss aspects about their well-being, as well as make group and mutual mentoring possible.