28 Aug UND salutes new ‘crew’ at New Faculty Orientation
It’s not what you teach, it’s what students learn, said Provost Tom DiLorenzo at New Faculty Orientation Thursday.
The event, attended by three dozen new faculty members, was a great way to launch a successful year of teaching, said Debbie Storrs, senior vice provost.
“It’s an important way to integrate faculty, give them the tools to be successful, and start building community,” Storrs said.
New faculty agreed. As they enjoyed breakfast and lunch while mingling, they appreciated the opportunity to meet other newcomers.
“This helps connect us to other departments,” said Karrianna Iseminger, instructor of occupational therapy.
“As I was walking over here, I met Tao Yu from chemistry,” said Cory Driscoll, instructor of music. “I’m in Hughes, he’s in Abbott Hall, and we might not have met otherwise. This is a good chance to mingle and meet other faculty who are in the same boat.”
“It’s a great way to meet other faculty and learn about their interests,” said Ramkumar Mathur, assistant professor of geriatrics.
“This helps us build relationships and potential collaborations in our research and classrooms,” said Emily Brinck, assistant professor of education, health & behavior science.
A successful launch
“We are so pleased you’re here,” said Storrs as she welcomed the faculty. “We want to launch your success in the classroom and prepare you for teaching.”
“UND lives and breathes the Strategic Plan,” Storrs continued, as she pointed out cards summarizing the plan at each table. “That plan focuses on giving students a strong education, retaining students, and helping students graduate on time. Faculty are central to ensuring that happens.”
She gave a preview of the day, which included hands-on instruction in Blackboard, UND’s learning system, and Starfish, UND’s student/faculty engagement system, as well as assistance with technology and presentations on student support and engagement.
“We want to help both students and faculty succeed,” Storrs said.
DiLorenzo, provost and vice president for academic affairs, welcomed the group.
“I’m delighted you’re here,” said DiLorenzo, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I see new faculty as rejuvenating us.”
He asked who had taken part in the New Faculty & Administrators Bus Tour and asked about the experience. One new faculty member said he enjoyed hearing how much UND is cherished.
DiLorenzo agreed, saying, “It’s amazing how many people love UND. They see it as ‘my UND.’
“We’re the flagship campus, and you are at one of only 50 flagship campuses,” he continued. “You’ve made it. Congratulations on being here!”
UND has fabulous deans and associate deans, DiLorenzo said.
“They are the academic leaders of their colleges and schools and have a deep commitment to helping you be successful. After all, they worked hard to get you here, and they want you to stay.
“We’re here for you,” he said. “You have great colleagues who will help you with everything from finding a dentist to finding a dry cleaner. We’ll help you along the way, too. You are now part of a big family here.”
Along with that, DiLorenzo offered some advice.
“Be grateful. Be happy,” he said, adding that his background is in clinical psychology. “I choose to be happy, and hope you do, too. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.’ We’re here for you.
“You’re teaching students how to think at a liberal arts university, how to sift through and evaluate information. We have the best jobs in the world – you get to teach your passion and do your research. Show that passion to students.”
DiLorenzo emphasized using technology to help students learn and succeed.
“Use Blackboard and Starfish,” DiLorenzo said. “Research shows that using them increases our retention rate. Our graduation rate has risen by 10 percent over the last three years. Don’t screw that up! Now, we’re working on retention.”
He handed out an article on evidence-based teaching (Evidence-Based Teaching: Now and in the Future, by William Buskist and James E. Groccia from New Directions for Teaching and Learning, wileyonlibrary.com).
“Be passionate, show your passion, and help students,” DiLorenzo said. “We will help you.”