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Sound advice: Seek balance, get involved
Faculty members offer tips to new colleagues  

Sep 9, 2009  
By Casey Elliot  

Between getting ready to teach, starting research projects and having some time to spend with family and friends, new faculty members likely wish there were at least 30 hours in a day.

Faculty members who participated in a recent panel discussion offered some sage advice for their new colleagues: Keep a sense of balance about your work and life.

"Know your limits, but get involved," said Assistant Professor of History Deborah Marinski, who teaches on the Southern campus. "Go to events, if you can. Meet students and meet other faculty members. Interact with other departments to understand how the university functions and what your role is at the university."

The panel was one of several organized for the New Faculty Welcome and Academic Orientation. During the two-day orientation, held Sept. 2-3, new faculty members learned about teaching resources, Blackboard and syllabus development, among other things.

New Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit was the moderator of the panel, comprised of faculty members who have joined the university in the last year.

"I have people asking me how things are going, and I tell them it's going great, but frankly, it's like drinking from a fire hose -- it's coming in fast and it's coming in heavy," Benoit said. "There is a list of the most stressful events in people's lives, and at the top of list is moving and taking a new job."

Panelists also chimed in with their suggestions and preferences for things to do both on and off campus.

One panelist, Associate Professor and Chair of African American Studies Ronald Stephens, recommended visiting some of the local restaurants and exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

"I like to eat. There are really nice restaurants in town and I've tried them all," he said, noting that his favorites are Stephen's, China Fortune and Salaam.

Panelist Justin Frantz, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, suggested setting realistic goals for research and personal development. He also encouraged faculty to take a tour of the area and learn about the history of the region.

"You learn how unique this location is," he said.

Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) Instructor Eddie McGee, also a panelist, offered advice on how to limit distractions.

"Sometimes it gets to feel a little too much like Grand Central Station -- there are a lot of distractions around us," he said. "If you feel overwhelmed, it's OK to close the office door, or take work home in those situations. It is OK to do what you have to do to get your work done."

Working effectively with students was another top concern.

Stephens said that technology is a double-edged sword, and he always includes a phrase in his syllabi telling students not to use cellular phones, iPods or laptops in class.

"In body they are physically there, but psychologically they're not," he said. "I don't want to give them any excuses for not getting information I'm teaching."



Related Links
Faculty Commons:  http://www.faculty-commons.org/fc/ 
Center for Teaching and Learning:  http://www.ohio.edu/ctl/  

Published: Sep 9, 2009 8:41 AM  

Panel member and Linguistics Instructor Eddie McGee speaks to new faculty.  

Chair of African American Studies Ronald Stephens shared his picks of local restaurants.

Photographer: Kevin Riddell  

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