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Helpful Tips: Welcome New Faculty

Work Environment

Establish the cultural norms of the department or school with new faculty.

New faculty may initially feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to navigate the cultural norms and unspoken rules of the department or school. To address these concerns, be sure to identify specific people for new faculty members to refer or meet with to address concerns or questions. In addition, it is important to provide guidelines and policies that describe how the department or school operates, especially those related to tenure and promotion and annual evaluation. Be sure to maintain a friendly, open atmosphere and introduce new faculty to others with similar teaching, research and personal interests. New faculty will appreciate information on affinity groups both inside and outside the university.

Establish senior faculty advisors (mentors) and create/maintain open lines of communication.

Along with carefully choosing current faculty members to act as mentors to new faculty members, it is necessary to ensure that mentors are aware that they are expected to take steps to communicate with and garner feedback from new faculty on a regular basis. Both mentors and mentees may need reminders about best practices, including those for confidentiality, trust, and honesty in the mentoring relationship.

Host annual and informal events with new faculty.

To avoid the possibility of new faculty feeling isolated from established social circles within the department or school, create annual and informal events that encourage relaxed social interactions. Encourage mentors and existing faculty to invite new faculty to lunch, coffee, or other get-togethers. This is especially critical for faculty of color, women, and others with characteristics that differ from the rest of the department.

Encourage faculty to support new faculty colleagues professionally and vice versa.

To strengthen working relationships between new and senior faculty members, encourage faculty to support the professional activities of their colleagues on campus by attending meetings, conferences, and other presentations.

Teaching

Properly prepare and inform faculty on new classes/course assignments that they will teach.

The trial period for new faculty members is relatively short and may leave them feeling intimidated or ill prepared to teach courses that require significant preparation. As possible, assign courses to new faculty member that are within their chosen area of expertise. Additionally, try to minimize the number of different courses/preparations a new faculty member teaches in the first few semesters or years. New faculty may also appreciate the opportunity to teach courses that are aligned with their research interests.

Provide sample syllabi for courses taught by faculty.

One of the easiest ways to improve teaching and organization is to increase the communication effectiveness of a syllabus. By maintaining and providing an archive of example syllabi of classes and coursework for reference, new faculty can better create a syllabus that meets the requirements of a course. For undergraduate courses, refer faculty to the Public Access to Course Information (HB2504) page: http://hb2504.txstate.edu/.

Promote teaching excellence through review of course evaluations and peer evaluations.

Due to a lack of professional teaching experience, new faculty may be unaware of the need to address teaching issues as early as possible. Reviewing course evaluations alongside new faculty after every semester will better help them identify what weaknesses they can address moving forward in their career. The review also ensures that faculty are aware of strengths and good practices that should continue in future classes.

Encourage new faculty to keep a record of their preparation and teaching time.

By keeping a record of their classroom preparation and lecturing time, new faculty can better determine the amount of time needed to teach the specific class material.

Suggest what model new faculty should establish when interacting with undergraduate and graduate students.

Creating a sense of rapport with a class is a critical first step for many new faculty members. To achieve this, encourage faculty to make themselves available to students to answer questions and address academic issues. Establishing a model, whether it be an open door policy or individual meetings, can allow faculty to connect and come to understand the needs of their students. While new faculty may need assistance in balancing student demands, research has shown that faculty support enhances learning and reduces problems in the classroom.

Research

Inform new faculty of available research development resources.

It is best to make new faculty aware of the range of services that are readily available to help with research, funding and other institutional resources and procedures. New faculty should be encouraged to apply for Texas State’s Research Enhancement Program (REP). New faculty receive bonus points on their applications, which are typically due in early October.

Encourage new faculty to establish a set amount of time (30-60 minutes) per day on scholarly writing and research.

New faculty members may find it difficult to set aside a considerable amount of time to pursue writing and research. Advising faculty to establish a short, but daily writing and research regimen can eliminate anxiety and increase personal and professional activity. New faculty may also be advised to maintain non-negotiable limits on time set aside for teaching, research, and service.

Remind new faculty about the importance of collaboration with fellow faculty members.

New faculty may require support or constructive criticism from their colleagues when developing their research projects. Senior faculty may be interested in partnering and learning from newer colleagues. Advise faculty to collaborate and share their research ideas with other people (faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate students etc.).

Encourage new faculty to attend training workshops.

In order to address in-depth questions that faculty might have in regard to teaching, research, or grants, new faculty should attend professional development workshops that can properly address their concerns. New faculty should be strongly encouraged to participate in Texas State’s Program for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship, which creates a sense of community, provides guidance and resources, and sets a solid foundation for faculty success.

Inform faculty on the importance of setting short, mid and long-term goals for research.

New faculty members may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of research work they attempt to accomplish in a short amount of time. Advise faculty on the importance of creating and maintaining a plan of action with clear and concise steps that can be completed within a desired timeframe. A review of the steps and progress will help ensure a research project is on track.

References and Additional Infomation

"Common New Faculty Issues and Solutions." Rochester Institute of Technology, https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/facultydevelopment/sites/rit.edu.academicaffairs.facultydevelopment/files/dept_head_resource_files/common_faculty_issues_and_solutions.pdf.

Sullivan, Meg. "How to Help New Faculty." University of Southern California, https://news.usc.edu/12813/How-to-Help-New-Faculty/

"New Faculty Guide to Competing for Research." University of California, Riverside, https://academicpersonnel.ucr.edu/new_faculty_orientation/fall2015/Resources/New%20Faculty%20Guide%20to%20Competing%20for%20Research%20Funding.pdf

Brent, Rebecca and Felder, Richard. "The New Faculty Member." North Carolina State University, http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Columns/Boice.html

Kuralt, Charles. “Tips for New Faculty.” The University of North Carolina, http://cfe.unc.edu/files/2014/08/tips_for_new_faculty.pdf