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Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend the New Faculty Orientation. Echoing some of Molly Keener’s thoughts from her post on the same topic last year, I did feel a little strange attending a “new” person orientation but I could not have been more wrong and I am so pleased that I attended.

Day one began here in the library with a presentation from the Provost’s Office. The vast amounts of information given by Mark Welker, Interim Provost, and the Associate and Assistant Provosts was impressive. Each presenter added to the opening remarks by Mark Welker who encouraged the teacher-scholar model, mentoring, and service. Jennifer Collins discussed the Academic Initiatives at Wake Forest, including the Humanities Institute, the Institute for Public Engagement, and the Women’s Center, to name a few. Jennifer encourage seeking out the academic initiatives and the exciting opportunities for the Wake Forest community. Kline Harrison, Associate Provost for International Affairs, spoke of the international efforts across the campus. This includes not only the various study abroad programs (approximately 60% of WFU undergrads study abroad), but also developing faculty exchanges, intercultural skills enhancement, language across the curriculum, international admissions, and international professional development. Rick Matthews discussed technology on campus and highlighted GoogleApps and WebEx as exciting new teaching tools. Barbee Oakes, Assistant Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, encouraged the Gatekeepers workshop, spoke of the upcoming LGBTQ Center, and scholarships for a workshop on eliminating racism. Beth Hoagland, Assistant Provost for Budget and Planning, introduced herself as the point person for any awards, grants, etc. She also encouraged faculty/student engagement and explained the “popcorn” fund, and other opportunities such as the student/faculty lunch program, for use by professors to socialize with students outside of the classroom. The final presenter, new registrar Harold Pace, went over the academic calendar, especially add/drop and grade submission. I must say that this session left me with a tremendous sense of growth and opportunity for students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest.

Although I have worked at ZSR for over a year in some capacity, I learned a lot from the presentations by the librarians and the introduction of the liaisons. Talking with the new professors after this portion of the day, I can say that many shared my sentiments and I was swelled with pride that I work among such a knowledgeable and welcoming group.

Following a delicious lunch, more exciting conversations, and multiple introductions, I decided to join the campus walking tour. Besides not knowing where any of the buildings are on campus besides the library, I was thrilled to hear the perspective of a former student. The tour guide Jennie Harris made the campus tour fun and informative. She was a guide as an undergraduate and has been working in admissions since she graduated. I consider her a real expert!

I did skip out on the Human Resources day since I have already been through most of it, but if you have read Joy’s description of this day as an episode of Oprah’s favorite things, I was sorry to have missed it!

Day three at Graylyn was another day of encouraging words, exciting opportunities, great food, and wonderful people. Jacquelyn Fetrow, the Dean of the College, along with President Hatch and representatives from the TLC, the Learning Assistance Program, the Writing Center seemed to all have the same message: “We like you, we want to help you, we want you to be successful, we want our students to be successful.” Another favorite part of the day was a panel discussion with three professors who are entering into their second year at Wake Forest: Jarrod Atchinson of Communications, Morna O’Neill of the Art Department, and Amanda Jones of Chemistry. Some thoughts I came away with:

  • it’s ok to take your time and figure things out
  • take full advantage of institutional opportunities
  • Wake Forest rewards initiative
  • new faculty means that you are the new eyes on campus
  • don’t be underwhelmed by small bits of progress
  • have a presence and be collegial

Overall, I found the new faculty orientation to be a very valuable experience. I am happy that I was able to be a part of it and look forward to the students returning to campus to put my knowledge to use and see the other members of the new faculty shine.