Ensuring that your institution's new faculty are supported and fully engaged will provide a better experience for them and for your students.

How department chairs can support new faculty

Ensuring that your institution's new faculty are supported and fully engaged will provide a better experience for them and for your students

Recent articles (from Fortune and Harvard Business Review) and even a podcast speak about the post-COVID phenomenon of Quiet Quitting. Gallup stated in early September that “quiet quitters” make up at least half of the US workforce. One of the key reasons for this, according to Gallup, is that employees do not feel cared about or are not provided growth opportunities from their managers.

In education, those first-line managers are generally department chairs. As chairs and the other members of the hiring team have often invested significant time–and often emotion–in the process, it is important to make sure that new faculty (and even mid-career faculty) are satisfied with their position and ensure they have the opportunities necessary for success.

A few things that can help a chair or other supervisor engage new faculty and ensure they are successful include the following:

Introducing them to key faculty members across the campus that are known to be good mentors and supporters of young faculty. Do not limit this to the first week or so of school when everyone is overwhelmed and focused on starting classes. Make time to do this throughout the semester.

Discuss expectations for making appropriate progress towards tenure and promotion; share successful examples of materials they need to gather. Offer to review their materials prior to submission or suggest someone else who could do this if your supervisory relationship would not allow you to do so. Make sure they set reasonable expectations as a new faculty member. It is common for faculty to try to emulate more senior faculty who have years of publication and presentation experience. Make sure they understand what level of productivity is expected from new faculty. If possible, make connections between them and others with aligned research interests to encourage collaboration. Sharing publication, presentation, and grant opportunities with new (all) faculty is an easy way for a chair to support their faculty.

As most higher education faculty are aware, committee work is an important part of university governance, but it can also be extremely time consuming. Help guide faculty in selecting one or two good committee assignments that will allow them to be productive without becoming a burden as they are still building out their courses and beginning to create their research agenda.

At a basic level, make sure that new folks have their keys, promised materials, ID card, etc. Often such materials are promised upon hire but following up is an easy way to make sure new faculty are not frustrated with basic things like accessing their classrooms, common spaces, or even their offices. Make sure they know how to order texts, access preview materials, and obtain exam copies of materials. If necessary, step in to help them obtain the initial materials they need to teach effectively.

Check to make sure the IT folks have the new staff properly represented on the college and department websites. Make sure they are properly connected to university social media connections and help promote their initial successes to help build their academic credentials. Connect new faculty with IT training modules and personnel who can assist them with class website navigation for instructor resources, media use, grading and assessment, and student engagement.

Make sure the new folks are aware of any social or other organizational commitments that may or may not be officially “required” but are expected of new faculty or staff. Check in regularly on your new employees, not only during their first semester but throughout their early years to make sure they have the materials and support they need to be successful. Ensuring that your faculty are supported and fully engaged will provide a better experience for both them and for your students and the wider university community as a whole.

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