Empowering Faculty: Ruderman Fellowship Program

Addressing the Student Mental Health Crisis: A Faculty-Centric Approach

Faculty members have emerged as a crucial resource in tackling the student mental health crisis on college campuses. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the pivotal role of faculty in recognizing and addressing students’ mental health challenges, particularly as campuses transitioned to remote learning, and traditional staff interactions were limited. In this transformed landscape, faculty, traditionally focused on academic support, took on the role of “first responders” to students’ mental health issues.

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Our Unique Program: Transforming Faculty into Mental Health Advocates

Responding to the evolving dynamic of student support, William James College has pioneered a unique program tailored to provide education and support for faculty members eager to make a meaningful impact within their universities. In collaboration with AICUM (Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts) and generously funded by a grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation, the Ruderman Fellowship Program delivers an immersive training experience during the early summer. This transformative program is complemented by a year of dedicated support, ensuring seamless implementation on your campus.

Training Experience

Ruderman Fellows will engage in a 2 ½ day, in-person training program during early summer. This dynamic training, held in regional, retreat-style settings (Western MA, Central MA, and metro-West Boston), is designed to equip fellows with evidence-based behavioral training. Throughout the sessions, interactive elements such as group discussions, case studies role-playing exercises, and other participatory activities will foster active engagement and interaction among participants. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The training will empower Ruderman Fellows with practical skills, enabling them to apply their gained knowledge in real-life campus situations. Key areas of expertise include:

  • Understanding and addressing mental health challenges in college students.
  • Incorporating social-emotional learning strategies in classrooms to enhance students’ resilience, emotional regulation, and positive relationships for improved mental health.
  • Establishing healthy and compassionate boundaries as educators.
  • Breaking down silos and fostering a collaborative network to strengthen support for students.
  • Developing and maintaining self-care strategies tailored for educators.

Training Schedule (Late May – Early June 2024)

  • Western MA/Springfield area: Venue yet to be determined, week of May 27, 2024.
  • Central MA area: Barred Owl Retreat Center in Worcester, June 5–7, 2024.
  • Newton/Metro-West/Boston area: Endicott Estates in Dedham, June 11–13, 2024.

The training will intentionally foster networking among Ruderman Fellows, encouraging idea exchange and community development. Cultural sensitivity and inclusivity will be prioritized to ensure content and approach consider diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

Post-Training Support

To maximize the enduring impact of our intensive training, we facilitate the creation of communities that foster the exchange of ideas, collaboration, and a supportive network among Ruderman Fellows.

After the training, Ruderman Fellows will transition into leadership roles at their respective institutions, guiding Faculty Learning Communities. These monthly sessions facilitate small group learning, covering topics related to student mental health and faculty wellness. Throughout the year, Ruderman Fellows receive comprehensive support, including individual consultations as needed, virtual monthly meetings with fellow Ruderman Fellows for shared support and consultation, access to an email listserv, a virtual library housing mental health resources, and a monthly newsletter.

Regular meetings provide Ruderman Fellows with a dedicated community, addressing their concerns and ensuring support aligns with their evolving needs. These communities will serve as spaces for collaboration on joint initiatives, partnerships, and shared resources, further supporting the integration of mental health and wellness practices on campuses.

Above all, these communities prioritize the well-being of Ruderman Fellows and the faculty they lead. Through these networks, participants will learn to implement strategies for stress management, promotion of work-life balance, and access resources for self-care, ensuring their sustained effectiveness in their roles.


The cost for a 2-person team is $1,000, which covers both training and post-training support. If multiple teams sign up, the cost is reduced to $900.

Join the Ruderman Fellowship Program and be a catalyst for positive change in university mental health support.

Contact Us

If interested, please contact the Director of Young Adult and College Behavioral Initiatives, Megan Kersting, at megan_kersting@williamjames.edu to schedule a brief virtual introductory meeting to discuss your specific needs.