Tips for Beginning Faculty by Beverly Delidow, Ph.D.

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Nov 21st, 2013
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So you just got your dream job at Blessedly Hiring U and you have been on campus about ten minutes and already you have emails coming in and voice messages about meetings and you haven’t even figured out where your mailbox is… STOP!  Before you get pulled in the seventeen directions we, your fine colleagues, would like to drag you in – Consider these bits of advice:

  1. Learn to say, “Thanks so much for asking – Let me check my calendar before I commit to that.”  New faculty try so hard to please, they are easy targets – but your first commitment in your first year is to the things that will contribute to your success as a faculty member. That probably doesn’t include the “Committee on Committees” or the “Taskforce on Envelope Usage”.
  2. Learn to say, “No” and mean it, if you really cannot do something. Even today’s scientific advances do not let you be in two places at once, or to simultaneously sit in a committee meeting while proofreading a colleague’s manuscript and give either one the attention deserved.
  3. Find out who knows the good stuff – like the code for the copy machine and where the paper is kept. It’s not your department chairperson who will find toner for you or help you through the maze of paperwork to hire a student assistant. The staff of your department and college are some of the most important contacts for you to have.
  4. Know what is expected of you at the department level. These are the folks you live with everyday.
  5. Know what is expected of you at the college level. This level is important for making sure you are more broadly “noticed” in a good way.
  6. Find a good mentor among your colleagues. There is nothing an academic loves to hear more than “Will you share your knowledge with me?”  Senior colleagues are a great source of ‘How-to’ and ‘How-did-you?’ information.
  7. Find out who teaches or taught the classes you will be expected to teach and schedule time to learn what is expected by the administration and by the students for the class.
  8. Investigate the sources of funding for your scholarship – the grants office will be willing to help. This will help you advance your work as a member of your field.
  9. Get students involved in what you do. Hire a student to help you set up your research projects, or enter contact information, or to help you move into your office. Students can be really helpful and can be among your most productive contacts.
  10. Find a supportive group of colleagues and make an effort to connect. The people you can speak with in confidence can be life savers – there are going to be days when you need to blow off steam and it really helps to have good friends at work who will let you do that.

There are lots of new things to learn as you begin a new faculty career. These tips will help you take a running start at one of the most rewarding professions there is. Enjoy it!

© Beverly Delidow, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Coordinator
Cancer Biology Research Cluster | Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
Marshall University | delidow@marshall.edu

Beverly Delidow is a professor, writer, and photographer in West Virginia. She has published articles, fiction, poetry, and photographs in a number of forms.

And as a college or university faculty member, you have many opportunities for success and failure. If you would like additional tips, tools, and techniques that you can use to support your successes, then you will want to access the The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors a step by step guide that will help you have a successful year and a compelling career as an academic.

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