For new faculty, gaining sage advice from those who have gone before can be important, especially when navigating a place as large as York University.
Sixty-six at York University got their own jump start to “everything” at York University during the New Faculty Orientation event, a two-day affair held Aug. 29 and 30 at the Underground Restaurant on the Keele campus.
At the event, they gained a thorough introduction to the University – from the myriad of acronyms that make up York U and the tenure track process – to who is who in the administration. They were also introduced to the wide array of resources available to them, had their questions answered and spent time meeting and networking with new colleagues.
The event was planned and co-hosted by the Office of the Vice-Provost Academic, the Office of the Associate Vice-President (AVP) Teaching and Learning, and the Teaching Commons. During the president’s breakfast on the first day, President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton delivered a keynote address on York University’s mandate, core priorities and the role of new faculty. Lenton spoke about her own journey through York University since joining the institution in 2002 as a dean to her new role as the University’s eighth president and vice-chancellor. She provided a thorough overview of how higher education in Canada is continually evolving and spoke about York University’s unique attributes and the institution’s focus on internationalization, teaching, learning and the student experience, and its leadership role in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work.
Greetings were then delivered to the new faculty by the event co-hosts Vice-Provost Academic Alice Pitt, and Will Gage, AVP teaching and learning.
Lisa Philipps, interim vice-president academic and provost, spoke to new faculty about York University’s ongoing work in planning, including its second Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA2) with the Province of Ontario, the University’s Integrated Resource Planning efforts, its Indigenous framework, and what it all means for new faculty, program quality and pedagogy.
The new faculty then heard presentations centred around a core theme that situated York University as a city. The presentations offered a variety of perspectives, including the York “city” as it relates to teaching, student experience, research, internationalization, governance, fundraising and graduate studies.
Following a break, faculty participated in a series of facilitated roundtables, where they met and networked with new faculty and were guided through areas such as tenure and promotion, working with graduate students, Open Access, research metrics and more.
In the afternoon, a faculty panel on balancing research, teaching and service at the University provided a relaxed exchange with three faculty members: Professors Andrea Davis (Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies), Franck VanBreugel (Lassonde School of Engineering) and Sarah Parsons (School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design). The new faculty heard about the importance of making time for mental breaks; learning meditation; linking service with research and teaching so they support each other; keeping strict but generous office hours; taking advantage of York’s encouragement of interdisciplinary work and opportunities; and finding a good role model and mentor.
Day two was focused on teaching, learning and student success. The day began with a presentation about student demographics at York University from the Vice-Provost Students Lucy Fromowitz.
Host Celia Popovic, director of the Teaching Commons, led participants through a relaxed and insightful agenda that had them explore what they already knew about teaching and learning, the key challenges faced by last year’s new faculty and the questions they wished they had asked, and the many resources for support and educational development offered by the Teaching Commons.
The two-day event finished with a resource fair and an information exchange that provided the new faculty with a wealth of information on where to go, who to talk to and what to ask for as they embark on their new careers at York University.