Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Faculty Orientation

Today was day one of the two-day orientation for new DePauw faculty. I don't remember ever having new faculty orientation when I joined the faculty at the University of Colorado almost twenty years ago. I do remember a lovely reception, and a workshop or two on how to get tenure ("Don't do lots of service. If you do lots of service, everyone will love you and they'll all come to wave goodbye with their little hankies when you're denied tenure").

In contrast, today was filled with informational talks about resources for faculty development at DePauw, talks about the nature of the DePauw undergraduate community, talks about academic integrity, talks about syllabus design. Despite my two decades of university experience, I found it all extremely engaging and helpful.

I came away with encouragement for giving my students lots of small writing assignments throughout the semester and careful "staging" of bigger assignments with due dates along the way for abstracts, outlines, drafts - a real sense that part of my task as a university professor is to give students as much genuine help as I can to allow them to succeed in my course. I experienced some wonderful moments of kinship with the speakers, as when the woman talking to us about academic integrity said that she would rather fail to catch a few plagiarizers than to create a climate of automatic distrust of her students (e.g., by having students submit their papers online through a plagiarism-detecting filter such as Yes!

I liked all my fellow new hires, even though they are twenty or thirty years younger than I am. One of them I already adore: a young professor in conflict studies who also loves children's literature.

Plus, I got a DePauw water bottle. And a map of Greencastle. I was treated to an excellent lunch at the Inn at DePauw and an even more excellent dinner at the home of the university's most hospitable and genial president.

Best of all, I learned that my new county, Putnam County, has nine covered bridges! I can't wait to see them when the leaves are turning, and when the snow is falling, and when flowering trees are in blossom.

When I told one of my friends back home that I was excited about new faculty orientation, she seemed puzzled: "Um - what exactly is it that you're hoping it will be?" At the time I didn't have any carefully formulated expectations. But whatever they were, good teaching tips, a DePauw water bottle, and a map of all the nearby covered bridges exceeded them.


  1. DePauw sounds like a warm and welcoming place to be! There are several covered bridges not too far away from me in ye olde Catskill Mountains. One is in a town where I lived years ago, although now you're not allowed to drive through it. I love reading about your new adventures and new life.

  2. Oooops--you can still drive through the town, but not the bridge! :0{

  3. Oh, I love those Indiana covered bridges! Glad you're settling in, Claudia, and hoping it will be a wonderful, nurturing, productive year for you.

  4. Thanks, Clara and Carol. Carol, I would love to email re coming to Chicago. Do you have my email address? It's Or I can email you.