A commitment and desire to foster the success and well-being of each new faculty member is infused in WPI’s culture. Multiple levels of the institution and multiple people and offices make this happen. Here we highlight programs and resources coordinated by the Morgan Center.
New Faculty Orientation
NFO is a week-long program that focuses on welcoming new faculty to the WPI community, making connections with colleagues and students, and starting to build knowledge about how to navigate WPI. As shown in this typical NFO Agenda, there are five half-days of programming, including an introduction to the WPI Plan; key supports for teaching, research, and well-being; and a high level overview of faculty governance and promotion and tenure processes. NFO typically starts the week before the start of A-term classes; the exact days and times are announced to new faculty in June each year.
New Faculty Mentoring Program
The early years of an academic career involve getting oriented and integrated into the campus community; navigating departmental and institutional support systems for teaching, research, and service; developing and enhancing teaching, research, and service skills; making sense of the expectations for advancement in particular types of positions; creating work-life balance; and establishing professional networks and social supports.
Mentoring, both from senior colleagues and from near peers, is a key to turning these potential roadblocks into areas of advancement (Sorcinelli, 2004). Research shows that having multiple mentors is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, more effective teaching, stronger records of scholarly productivity, and increased rates of retention, tenure, and promotion (Johnson, 2007; Cartwright, 2008; National Academy, 2010.)
For these reasons, since 1997 WPI’s teaching and learning center has facilitated a campus-wide New Faculty Mentoring Program for all new full-time faculty members in all academic departments and programs. The program enjoys broad support among faculty and academic leadership and a very high participation rate.
Historically, the mentoring program combined one-on-one mentoring pairs with cohort (peer-to-peer) gatherings. Because of studies showing the importance of multiple mentors for a wide variety of needs, , our program model now uses Peer Mentoring Teams, inspired by and adapted from TEAM ADVANCE at the University of North Carolina.
WPI’s peer mentoring teams consist of 4-6 new faculty and 2 experienced faculty facilitators. Team members are formed of faculty from a variety of backgrounds to encourage cross-learning and collaborations across campus. Teams meet monthly to discuss topics of interest to new faculty and to connect them with resources at WPI that will help them succeed.
Additional Resources for New Faculty
All new faculty are encouraged to enroll in the Faculty On-Ramp to Teaching (FORT) program at WPI during their first year or in the summer prior to their first year. Project Advising 101 is recommended for second-year faculty. Two key resources for new faculty are the New Employee Checklist and the New Faculty Resource Collection on Canvas, maintained by the Morgan Center. All new faculty are invited to join this site which includes all NFO and mentoring program materials and more.
Questions about campus-wide programs for new faculty can be directed to Professor Aaron Deskins, Associate Director for New Faculty Programs in the Morgan Center.