One of the most important things you do as chair is to orient and mentor new faculty colleagues, both tenure-track and short-term visitors. The week before new students arrive, the Provost’s Office and the Learning and Teaching Center will host New Faculty Orientation, which introduces newcomers to each other and provides a good bit of basic information about Carleton. This is no substitute, however, for careful, on-going departmental orientation and mentoring. New faculty will be assigned a College mentor and be invited to participate in the year-long New Faculty Mentoring Program sponsored by the Learning and Teaching Center, and you should encourage your new colleague(s) to attend the Mentoring Program lunches (usually held several times each term during Common Time). But you and your departmental colleagues will be in daily contact with your new colleague(s) and it’s essential that you play an active role in ongoing mentoring to the College, the profession, and your department/program. In most cases, the chair assumes the role of mentor to new colleagues, whether tenure-track or visiting. In other cases, another senior colleague may act as mentor to a new faculty member. If you are asking another department or program colleague to serve as mentor, be sure to let your new faculty member know and introduce them. Whoever in your department serves as a mentor should encourage the new faculty member to develop a network of mentors that includes individuals within and outside the department and within and outside the College.

The help you give, even before your new colleague arrives in town, can be crucial. New faculty will have questions about:

  • scheduling of courses
  • Bookstore orders
  • norms about reading assignments, numbers of tests and papers, etc. in courses
  • use of reserve readings in the library
  • purchase of library materials
  • course management software
  • how to work effectively with department assistants
  • where to get supplies
  • office hours

You may want to serve as host to a new faculty member on arrival in Northfield, or you may want to designate a colleague to play the role of greeter and to answer questions about such things as banks or grocery stores.

Your department assistant can be a great help in orienting new faculty.

Among the very practical things that a new faculty member will usually need to have explained very early include:

  • how the department does its business
  • who may be consulted for help of various kinds (including the Deans’ Office and the LTC)
  • how to assess one’s own teaching
  • what are grading norms
  • what are likely student requests (e.g. late papers) and ways to respond
  • what are likely student problems (e.g. repeated absences) and ways to respond

On a continuing basis, newer faculty need regular mentoring regarding:

  • how to balance the demands of teaching, scholarship, and service
  • how to nourish and advance creative or scholarly efforts
  • how to maneuver through College governance (you might begin this by bringing your new faculty member to faculty meetings)

Try not to be prescriptive (except where absolutely necessary). Recognizing that all of us make these decisions somewhat differently, try to encourage a young colleague to see a range of options and to develop his or her own voice and style.

Perhaps one of the most useful things you can do as chair is convey a sense that you can be asked all sorts of basic questions and that the new teacher will be heard clearly and responded to with respect. It is important that this process of helping new faculty settle into teaching at Carleton begins as soon as they are hired. It is wise to reach out to new faculty even before they arrive on campus to signal your eagerness to welcome them and help them acclimate to Carleton.