Category Archives: New Faculty

Participate in a community of faculty peers by coming to our new faculty seminars

If you are a new professor here at Penn State, please consider joining us for our new faculty seminar series. Four times this academic year we are offering seminars that should not only get you more in the know about various aspects of your new role, but they will also serve as an excellent forum for meeting other new professors who are going through the same kind of adjustments as you. Who knows when you may need a colleague across campus to partner with on a proposal or to go hiking with on Mt Nittany?

Please join us at any or all of these events by going to:


Top 10 Things Every New Faculty Member Should Know

Tuesday, September 11, 2012, Noon – 1 pm, Rider 315

Two pre-tenure faculty, Dr. Erika Poole and Dr. Kamesh Madduri, will share what they have learned about teaching and learning, workload issues, and faculty expectations during their first few years at Penn State. Their insights are worth hearing and joining in will be a good way for you to begin developing a community of new faculty peers.


Using Your Voice in the Classroom

Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 12:15 – 1:15 pm, Rider 315

University professors are professional public speakers and the skill to speak healthily is just as important as keeping current in research and being able to create a stimulating environment in the classroom. Make sure you are getting your message across in a confident, sustainable manner by joining Professor Jennifer Trost, School of Music, who will discuss the proper care of the voice and offer suggestions to increase your stamina and ability to project.


Analyzing Your Student Evaluations

Thursday, January 24, 2013, Noon – 1 pm, Rider 315

You just got your first set of student evaluations back. Would you like to discuss them in an environment where others, just like you, are figuring out for the first time how to interpret and utilize the results? Come to this session to take a closer look at the SRTEs and to figure out how to use these ratings to guide teaching improvement.


Getting the Most from Your Mentor

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:15 – 1:15 pm, Rider 315

Going it alone is not a recommended path for new professors. With all of the new opportunities and expectations, you may feel you don’t have any time for relationships. Yet you need support and guidance. During this session, we hear from a faculty with mentoring expertise and we will listen to your perspectives on the mentoring you have received so far. At the end, you should leave with some new ideas on how to enhance your mentoring experiences.


Cutting the cord

Recently a colleague who is a new faculty member at another institution told me that she has been communicating with her former graduate adviser too much. She contacts her advisor frequently to ask for input on articles and grant proposals she is working on. “I just realized that I’m relying on him too much,” she said. “It’s time to cut the cord”. She was referring to the umbilical cord that joins a newborn to its mother. Of course the umbilical cord is essential to the growth and development of a baby before birth, but afterward it is no longer needed.

At Penn State we are at the beginning of a new academic year, a time when hundreds of new faculty members are beginning another stage of their careers. Where do they get the information they need to successfully navigate this transition? I chatted recently with a senior faculty member who has many years of experience in working with new faculty as a department head, a dean, and a member of promotion and tenure committees. He told me he has seen several instances where new faculty members, unsure of their departmental/college expectations for tenure, consult a source who cannot necessarily give them useful information: their graduate advisor. Why is the information not useful? Each institution has its own particular expectations regarding promotion and tenure, so a faculty member who has gone through the process at another institution may have had a very different experience.

I certainly do not mean to suggest through these anecdotes that new faculty should sever all ties to their graduate advisors. But what we do know from scholars who have studied the mentoring process (not quite like advising but close enough for my purposes here) is that the relationship between mentor and mentee is just that–a relationship. And like any kind of relationship, it has phases. New faculty may find themselves negotiating not just a physical but a psychological separation from their graduate advisors. This separation phase marks the end of the formal mentoring relationship, where both parties review what has been accomplished and how successful the relationship has been.

This transition is not always an easy one for a new faculty member, who may feel less than confident in his or her readiness to take on a new role. And mentors who have really engaged in and enjoyed the mentoring process may be reluctant to separate from the mentee. A successful separation is not the end of the relationship. Once they work through the separation process, mentor and mentee can redefine their relationship as one of friends or colleagues.
During the separation and redefinition phases, a new faculty member still needs sources of useful information and support germane to his/her new role–in other words, another mentor.

As an instructional developer who works with new faculty concerning their new teaching roles, I realize that new faculty need support as they take on not just teaching, but research and service.

We are a large university with many mentoring resources, some of them informal or not well-known. Do you have experiences or resources on mentoring new faculty you would like others to know about? Or perhaps you are a new faculty member looking for resources? Let me know about it, either via the blog or email:

Part-Time Faculty Handbook

Part time Faculty Handbook – 2010-11.pdf

The University Handbook for Part-Time Faculty and General Resource Book for All Faculty has been updated for 2010-11.  You may access it (and print out copies as you wish) at  The handbook is also accessible through the Office of Human Resources at under the Faculty section.  Since the Handbook has useful information for all faculty, you may want to give a copy to all of your academic appointments.