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Faculty Reception

A new 'Culture of Accomplishment'

Initiative helps new, junior and tenured Harpur College faculty thrive

by Eric Coker

Harpur College of Arts and Sciences faculty members received boosts in areas such as networking, mentorship and grant writing when the Culture of Accomplishment program was unveiled in the fall of 2013.

"This program reaches out to all faculty ranks, from those who are pre-tenure to newly tenured to full professors," says Florence Margai, Harpur College associate dean for graduate studies, student success and faculty development.

Margai, who oversees the program, developed the Culture of Accomplishment with Harpur College Dean Anne McCall. Margai reviewed results from a Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) faculty satisfaction survey and sought input from the campus community on ways to help faculty members adapt and achieve.

One way to help new faculty members become acclimated to campus is through mentoring. Departments were asked to come up with mentoring plans for junior faculty and share those plans with the dean's office.

"Bringing department chairs on board and having these connections at chairs meetings was helpful," Margai says.

Faculty networking events also helped junior and senior faculty members connect. Meet-andgreet events were held at the beginning and end of the 2013–14 school year, while a Faculty Book Authors and Grant Reception was held in March.

"Those networking events helped, but we also worked on the issue of transparency when it comes to tenure and promotion," Margai says. "We asked departments to go back and review their tenure and promotion guidelines. We want new faculty members to come in knowing what those guidelines are from day one. That leads to greater success when it comes to being fully tenured."

The Culture of Accomplishment also emphasized grant-writing circles for tenured faculty members. Leigh Ann Wheeler, professor of history, led National Endowment for the Humanities sessions, while Wendy Martinek, associate professor of political science, led the National Science Foundation circle.

"Our goal is to increase grant applications within the social sciences and humanities," Margai says. "These events focus on the nuts and bolts of grant writing and submissions to targeted funding agencies."

The third aspect of the Culture of Accomplishment is a Distinguished Leadership Council that helps identify faculty members worthy of excellence awards. Featuring 18–20 faculty members, most of whom have distinguished rank, the group also works with a provost leadership council to make award recommendations.

"Great universities have highly deserving and well-recognized scholars in their ranks," Margai said. "This (council) is one of the ways we can promote the visibility of the college and the institution."

The goal for the Culture of Accomplishment's second year is to expand on the concepts that were developed in 2013–14, Margai says.

Besides building on the three tiers, Margai says a research charrette could be held in January in which faculty members come together to brainstorm and develop innovative ideas that would be voted on by the group.

"The highest ranked ideas will receive seed grants from the dean's office," she says. "The faculty members will be encouraged to fully develop these proposals and submit them to a funding agency."

The charrette, which Margai says came from talking to alumni, emphasizes networking and increasing research productivity. The Culture of Accomplishment will continue to be promoted through orientations, chairs meetings and faculty e-mail lists, Margai says.

"It's important for new faculty to sign on from day one," she says. "This year, for instance, we are creating a pre-tenure club with regular meetings to help them adjust to campus and prepare for the tenure process. "We're looking forward to building on the first year. It's an exciting program."

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Last Updated: 3/1/17