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New Faculty Orientation Program Enhanced by TLT

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NewFacultyOrientationThe Teaching, Learning + Technology (TLT) Department is gearing up for its third consecutive year in charge of the new faculty orientation program. Held during a two-day period at the start of the fall semester, the program includes presentations and workshops. The agenda includes a campus tour, a panel discussion guided by faculty who have been at the University for a few years called “The Five Things I Wish I Had Known When . . .”, and an open question and answer period. Mandatory sessions covering core human resource topics such as employee benefits and University policies are usually held on the first day, while optional teaching, learning, and technology components are offered on the second day.

A new faculty information and community Web site was created after feedback indicated that an online presence would be helpful for self-paced exploration given the time demands placed on instructors. The Web site was designed by TLT in SharePoint and employs distributed authoring so that individuals in other departments may contribute and help maintain the site’s content. The Web site explains the orientation process, has a space for networking and community, and a list of things new faculty are interested in before arriving on the job such as activities to do in the area, what to know about moving to Long Island, housing, parking, transportation, and how to go about getting ID cards, keys, and business cards. There is a section dedicated to the University’s human resource services, areas of support for faculty and students, and a section called “About SB” that outlines academic policies and procedures, legal obligations, the governance structure, traditions and student life, recreational facilities, and more.

“The site is a great marketing tool for departments,” said Graham Glynn, assistant provost and executive director of TLT. “It shows new faculty that we care about them and are willing to provide this information in advance and help them move, get settled, and transition to a new job.”

TLT is trying to build a network of new faculty. A private listserv has been established so new faculty can talk among themselves and share what they learn with one another. A social networking component will be coming soon so that new faculty who live in the same area can get together and socialize to support their professional networking.

Prior to two years ago, Human Resource Services administered orientation for new faculty as part of the overall new employee orientation. This covered general information about working at the University and employee benefits, but provided very little additional information targeted to faculty, so the Provost asked TLT to formulate a specialized orientation program just for faculty.

A task force of about 20 people was created that met for six months. The initial task force decided on a one-day event, but it soon became evident that to get all the critical information across, a second day was necessary to cover required legal presentations by Human Resource Services.

Orientation is generally held in the Wang Center and subsequent workshops are held in the Faculty Center conference room. TLT uses computer labs on the first day in the afternoon to hold its computer systems orientation where it makes sure new faculty get logged in and have e-mail access. They are shown how to get into SOLAR, Blackboard, and all the critical systems that in the past they had to go to colleagues for help or try to figure it out on their own.

“The series of sessions covering specific information were quick-paced, with plenty of handouts and good speakers who answered questions carefully and well,” said Dean Miller, director of Stony Brook’s Center for News Literacy who arrived at the University two weeks before classes started in the fall of 2009. “It seemed like just enough information on the stuff we really needed.”

“Over the summer, I am going to get in touch with our last class of new faculty and I am going to ask them to be part of the planning,” said Nancy Wozniak, learning architect in TLT’s Faculty Center who serves as one of the event’s main organizers. “The key thing to new faculty orientation is that we in the Faculty Center stay out there and in touch.”

—Kerrin Perniciaro

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