Program aims to help new faculty


New faculty members now have their own orientation program at SDSU.

This new program known as New Faculty Orientation, focuses on building relationships, forming solidarity and briefing new faculty members on SDSU’s history. The program is intended to help faculty who would otherwise have few outlets or opportunities to get informed.

“And we have sessions throughout the academic year to follow it,” said Academic Affairs Assistant Vice President Mary Kay Helling.

According to Helling, the goal of NFO is fourfold.

“[We focus on] building community so that [new faculty members] can meet other people, and then just a lot of providing resources,” Helling said. “We talk about faculty expectations. We provide information on SDSU traditions and culture.”

Kevin Sackreiter, director of SDSU’s Teaching Learning Center, agreed and said NFO informs new faculty about SDSU standards.

“(It) provides an introduction to the university for new faculty and lets them know (about) services and opportunities we have available,” Sackreiter said. “It also introduces truly new faculty to university expectations – expectations that not just SDSU but any university would have for them as they take on their role as a faculty member. In some ways you could compare it to new student orientation.”

According to SDSU’s Faculty Handbook, scholars at SDSU dedicate themselves to teaching, advising, scholarship and service. Scholarship includes research and creative activity within one’s field of work. Service may involve anything from working with the Census Data Center to joining the planning committee of a school board. SDSU tries to help its faculty succeed in all three parts of its mission.

“[At NFO] we try to help people have the necessary information so they can be successful,” Helling said. “Not only students to be successful—we want faculty to be successful as well, and this is one of the things we do to help them.”

Sackreiter said, although SDSU already has faculty dedicated to improving in the classroom, the NFO is another way to help them do this.

“We have really good teachers to start with. Across the board our faculty are committed to improving as well. That’s a really strong asset for the SDSU community,” he said.

Sackreiter and Helling both explained that SDSU supplements NFO with faculty development sessions throughout the year.

“We do a lot of other programming through the Teaching Learning Center—not just for new faculty but for all the faculty,” Helling said.

“We offer three sessions as follow-ups throughout the year,” Sackreiter added. “[At the Teaching Learning Center] we do probably one faculty development event a week, minimum.”

Helling agreed

“There’s mentoring and working with the department head,” she said, “and this NFO is one piece of a much broader experience, hopefully, that people have when they come here [to SDSU],” she said.