As we all know, the ZSR Library acquired faculty status for its librarians as of July 1, 2009. Thus, as the first librarian hired after July 1, 2009, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Wake Forest University’s 2009 new faculty orientation. I am truly grateful and honored for being one the attendees at such a well planned and instructive orientation that lasted three days.
August 1, 2009 was the first day and the schedule was impressive. A continental breakfast was offered at the Teaching and Learning Center at the ZSR Library where new faculties had the opportunity to get acquainted and socialize. This was followed by a warm welcome from the Provost Jill Tiefenthaler who shook hands and exchanged few words with each new faculty. This strategy was so well thought of as it gave each new faculty the opportunity to be acknowledged individually by the provost. Jill graciously let us know that one of her priorities was professional development and therefore encouraged us to devote some time for scholarship without forgetting our first responsibility which is to set the bar high for teaching. The introduction of the Provost was followed by welcoming words from the different Associate Provosts who shared with us their experience working at Wake Forest. They were all pleased to be a part of the Wake Forest University community. It was quite encouraging to see that most of these folks have been here for many years.
After a quick break, the group was given a tour of Winston-Salem where a knowledgeable tour guide introduced Winston-Salem and took us to its historical background and cultural places including shops and restaurants downtown. Although I moved to Winston-Salem a couple of weeks prior to the orientation and had some time to look around, this tour made me discover new exciting places like Old Salem where I will definitely go back for a visit with my family.
The tour of Winston-Salem ended with a lunch at the Reynolda House where an introduction to this historical house was given by the Director Allison Perkins. This was followed by few presentations instructing us on the Reynolda House’s art resources. The group was then given a tour of the Reynolda House and we were all impressed by the historical richness of this house. The first day of the orientation ended with a ride back to the ZSR Library.
The second day of the new faculty orientation was August 14, 2009 at the Graylyn Conference Center – and – provided new faculties with significant information geared toward facilitating their integration into the Wake Forest University community. The schedule was impressive and covered the whole day. After a warm welcome from the Associate Dean of the College, Paul Ribisl, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, gave her opening comments. The message was clear and to the point with a walk through the Office of the Dean’s Website. She commented on her office’s organizational chart and emphasized on where to go for help. She also announced the ITGs and commented on their respective roles in the college. Additionally, the Dean of the college introduced the Student Athlete Services and the Learning Assistance Office and Program.
After the introduction of the Associate Deans and Support Staff, three Teacher Scholars gave a presentation on the Teacher Scholar Ideal at Wake Forest. The panel included J. K. Curry, from the Department of Theater and Dance, Christian Miller from the Department of Philosophy, and Akbar Salam from the Department of Chemistry. They all spoke the same language and gave us advice on how to effectively teach and communicate with students. One advice was to put together a syllabus that we would hand out to students the very first day of class in order for them to be aware of due dates for assignments and exams.
During our time at Graylyn, the new faculty group was also informed on the available opportunities for scholarship and creative activities. These opportunities include: guaranteed junior faculty leaves which provides junior faculties in tenure track with the opportunity to take one term off to complete a research or scholarly work, Reynolds sabbatical leaves which can be taken for one semester at full pay or a whole year at reduced pay, Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities, and Wake Forest Scholars. This last activity led to a lunch break.
This lunch was so memorable that it certainly worth a whole paragraph. There were several chefs and servers to wait on new faculties. The menu was impressive and the food, absolutely tasty and abundant. We felt like royalty at that lunch and we all found it worth it to be there. The lunch was followed by more informative presentations.
Three faculty members shared their experiences on how to manage family and work at Wake Forest. The panel was comprised of Ann Cunningham from the Department of Education, Mary Dalton from the Department of Communication, and Dean Franco from the Department of English. Although the message was more for faculties with children, faculties with no dependents would use the information when they decide to have kids. This section led to a round table discussion of “The First Year”.
Three faculty members who have been at Wake Forest for one year talked about the varied challenges that new faculties experience within the first year on the service. This panel included Patricia Dos Santos from the Department of Chemistry, Sandya Hewamane from the Department of Anthropology, and Melissa Jenkins from the Department of English. This round table discussion gave us the opportunity to ask questions and share mutual ideas. Since several new faculties mentioned to me in private conversations prior to the round table discussion that the only thing missing in the orientation was a tour of the ZSR Library, I thought I should share these wishes with the orientation organizers, which I did.The round table was followed by a wine and cheese reception where I was approached by several new faculties including the Associate Dean of the College, Paul Ribisl, just to say thanks for bringing up the library tour wishes.
The third and last day of the new faculty orientation was Tuesday August 18, 2009. This last day was also well organized. After a nice breakfast, the new faculties were welcomed and introduced to the Human Resources by Angela Culler, Director of HR Operations. Following the HR introduction, Chief of Police, Regina Lawson gave a presentation on campus safety and talked about precaution measures that faculty members should take to protect themselves and their students. One of the most important discussions of the day included a presentation on benefits.
Benefit specialist, Coburn Dagenhart gave an informative presentation on “Understanding Your Benefits”. This was followed by a Q and A section on benefits with benefits staff. This benefits discussion section gave new faculties, including myself, the occasion to ask questions and make changes to benefit forms. The benefit section led to lunch and later to ThinkPad distribution.
The ThinkPad distribution was coordinated by Pat Idol from Information Systems. Here, new faculties were introduced to their new computers follow by a tutorial section where they were taught how to use their new laptops. Since I already had my laptop, I left the orientation and came back to work.
It was such a great opportunity for me to participate in this new faculty orientation as I left with tons of useful information that will help ease my transition into my new work environment. The first day was impressive and gave me the opportunity to discover Winston-Salem and to socialize with other new faculties. The second day was insightful and informative as it allowed me to learn what some of the challenges ahead of me are and how to effectively overcome them. The third and final day was also informative as it gave me the opportunity to better understand benefits and who to contact for campus safety and emergencies. I am glad the library acquired faculty status for its librarians as this expands the limits of their involvement in the Wake Forest University’s academic activities.