You've Got Their Backs
Balancing the responsibilities of research, teaching, mentoring, and service can be challenging for incoming faculty members.
As department chair, you can help them by providing support and sharing information about university resources. Strategies that some department chairs use include:
- Monthly brown bag lunches on a variety of topics.
- Informal mentoring programs.
- Scheduled meetings with new faculty members each semester.
Newer faculty members might lack experience seeking external funding or writing grant proposals. Research and Innovation Initiatives (RII) helps faculty, students and staff identify and seek funding through such services as:
- Workshops and seminars on grant writing and managing sponsored projects
- Identification of funding opportunities
- Coordination of large-scale proposal efforts.
It's a good idea to review student course evaluation data each semester. Some department chairs send thank-you letters to instructors who receive exceptionally strong feedback.
Reviews can also alert you when an instructor is experiencing challenges. While poor student evaluations don't necessarily indicate a problem, a meeting can help you better understand what's happening and offer needed support.
Departments are also encouraged to use peer observations. Each unit should establish their own observation form, as expectations differ across disciplines. If you need help building a peer observation form, contact the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. The Center also:
- Coordinates and hosts Mason’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference.
- Provides individual and departmental consultations.
- Facilitates faculty learning communities.
- Stocks a robust set of online resources.