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New faculty orientation was one of the most informative and enjoyable experiences that I have had since coming to work at Wake Forest. I am convinced that my gratitude for this opportunity is much deeper than it ever could have been if I had had this experience when I first started working as an adjunct five years ago.
On Wednesday, August 10, the new faculty gathered in the Mandelbaum Reading Room where we began the day with a light breakfast and mingling. What an interesting group of people! I met several new faculty from the English Department who have offices in the Writing Center. I also met Sandy Sikes whose picture is on the front page of today’s Winston-Salem Journal (and she would not have known it if I had not told her this morning!). The networking that happens through faculty orientation is invaluable.
The first day set the pace for a remarkable three days. The program kicked off with an introduction to the provost’s office. After being here for five years, it felt like I was in the presence of rock stars! Finally, I was able to put faces to names that I have heard and seen. These “Ah-ha” moments were consistent for me all three days.
Next, we were introduced to the ZSR Library and all I can say is, “Wow!” What great PR for the Library and kudos to the presenters. It could not have been better.
After a delightful lunch in Room 401 where we ate on white table clothes (a rare treat for me!), we were introduced to more WFU people. I then took a campus tour led by Jennie Harris, Assistant Dean of Admissions. I wish I had a video of the first part of tour where she began by talking about our wonderful Library; everything she said was completely in line with what was said in the earlier Mandelbaum presentation. She said many interesting things that I did not know, such as the fact that Tribble is the largest academic building on campus and Reynolda was bigger than all of the academic buildings combined on the old campus. Also, she said that 85% of Wake students are involved in some sport, mostly intermural.
The second day was spent with Human Resources. It felt a little like the Oprah Winfrey show in that a department would make a presentation and then people appeared bearing gifts for all the new faculty, such as tickets to the tennis open, a pedometer, posters, bags, a cup, pencils, a Metlife stuffed Snoopy, etc. How fun is that? I learned several helpful things such as the fact that WFU employees get a 22% discount from Verizon.
The third day was held at the Graylyn Conference Center. Is there any more beautiful place on earth to have a meeting? It was a delight to meet Jacquelyn Fetrow, the Dean of the College. We also met the five associate deans from her office. My personal favorite presentation was by Jane Caldwell. Since I teach so many athletes, my respect for her department and how she runs that program made me want to give her a standing ovation. I am convinced that we are the most compliant school in the NCAA and ACC.
I was most curious to hear what President Hatch would have to say to a new group of faculty and I was not disappointed. He started with a self-deprecating story about his own experience as a new faculty member. And then he asked a simple question, “What are we about?” He referred to William Powers’ book, Hamlet’s Blackberry and the fact that we have become a society of continuous partial attention. He said that at our core we are about learning and to learn anything well requires concentration. It is an idea that I continue to ponder.
Today, I attended the Gatekeeper Workshop for new faculty. If you have not attended one of these, I highly recommend it. I’m now ready to sign up for 2 and 3 in the series.
Overall, it has been a remarkable week and it never would have happened without faculty status for ZSR librarians. Hats off to Lynn and the other forward thinking people who made it possible for me to participate in these events!