Orientation welcomes new faculty to UND
Daylong event emphasizes teaching success, becoming part of community
Randi Tanglen, UND’s vice provost for faculty affairs, opened the 2023 New Faculty Orientation last week by telling the 67 attendees, “We just want to make sure you have all the information you need to get started.”
Whether that’s help applying for a research grant, getting assistance with instructional design, knowing where to seek support through campus resources or exploring how to get involved in the Grand Forks community, new faculty members spent the day in the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration getting accustomed to and learning about their new surroundings.
“The primary purpose of new faculty orientation is to create a sense of community among the new faculty and send the message that they are welcome at the University of North Dakota, and that we are thrilled to have them here,” Tanglen said.
For Emily Wirkus, a new faculty member who earned her undergraduate degree at UND and is now returning as a theater arts assistant professor, the orientation was a success.
“The classes and the panels were wonderful, but the thing that sticks out to me the most is that it just shows how much UND leads with a sense of community and with empathy,” she said. “They put so much care and time into making sure that we not only feel included in the University setting, but also in the city of Grand Forks. I think that’s really awesome.”
This semester, the University is bringing in more than 90 new faculty members, many of whom attended New Faculty Orientation. Tanglen said it’s one of the largest groups of incoming faculty in recent years at UND.
Eric Link, provost and vice president for academic affairs, welcomed UND’s new faculty members. Having worked closely with deans and department chairs, he knew the University had an outstanding recruiting year.
“Sitting in this room right now are some of the best of the best,” he noted. “We’ve got a great incoming class of faculty, and we are genuinely thrilled that you’re here. That’s because faculty are the lifeblood of this University.”
Sarah Robinson, incoming chair of the University Senate and clinical associate professor in Communications Sciences & Disorders, encouraged new faculty to fully experience the start of a new semester.
“There’s nothing like the energy of a college campus,” she said. “Get out and enjoy these first couple of weeks. Take it all, in because there’s really nothing like that energy and excitement when the students come back.”
Anne Kelsch, director of faculty development in the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTaDA), told the group. “I’m excited about the work we do to help you be successful. I think UND is at a really good juncture right now, and you picked a great time to join the crew.”
She also spoke about UND’s Alice T. Clark Mentoring Program that assists faculty in developing professional and personal networks, increases awareness of on-campus resources and supports professional development.
“Most of your campus colleagues came through this program,” she explained. ”They benefited from a senior colleague helping them and growing alongside them. They’re really excited to give back and to be a mentor within this program.
“It really creates a culture on campus of supporting each other, of mutual collaboration, and particularly of welcoming new faculty and helping them find their place and be successful.”
Several orientation speakers discussed the University’s new strategic plan, UND LEADS, outlined in the State of the University address given the previous day by UND President Andrew Armacost. Current University Senate chair Robert Newman encouraged new faculty to read the plan, discover what resonates with them and then get involved in the implementation phase.
“This was the most inclusive strategic planning process I’ve ever seen at any organization,” he said. “So everybody should feel like they have a stake in this.”
In addition, Newman also encouraged faculty to get involved in the University Senate or one of the many committees that provide guidance to it.
“There are a lot of different ways that faculty and other members of the University Senate provide guidance and leadership on everything that happens on campus,” he said.
One new element of this year’s New Faculty Orientation was a panel on “Life in Grand Forks,” providing helpful information on how to get connected with organizations and learn about events in the community.
Panel members included Hamzat Koriko, community outreach specialist with the city of Grand Forks and UND instructor; UND alum Lisa Martinez, who’s active in many community organizations; Sam Jensen with the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals; and Becca Cruger, artist and director of workforce development with the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp.
“We know our new faculty come to Grand Forks with different life experiences and with different support networks,” Tanglen said, explaining the need for the panel.
“Some might be moving here with their families and their partners, thinking not only about starting a new job, but also about helping their family adjust to life in a new community, a new culture and a new climate.”
Tanglen also noted how New Faculty Orientation relates to the UND LEADS Strategic Plan.
“It falls squarely with the affinity pillar, creating that sense of belonging,” she said. “To that end, we provide lots of opportunities throughout the semester for new faculty to interact with and know each other, and to interact with and get to know other faculty, staff and campus leaders.”
For new faculty member Chonglin Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the orientation achieved its goals.
“I feel like I not only got a lot of information on how to start as a faculty member here, to teach and do research at the university, but also useful information for my lab,” he related. “It gives me the opportunity to balance my work outside the lab. Meeting all these wonderful people today, it was a very welcoming environment.”