New faculty members had a chance to pick up some good advice from veteran academics at the semiannual New Faculty Orientation recently hosted by the Provost’s Office.
In addition to receiving a plethora of information about resources to support their professional development, the newcomers heard from a panel of faculty moderated by Dr. Nancy Moreno, associate provost for faculty development and institutional research. She asked the panelists what strategies were most successful and what they wished they had known when starting their careers at Baylor.
“Be strategic in your allotment of time,” said Dr. Susan Marriott, professor of molecular virology and microbiology, who became a “power user” of Microsoft Office Suite to save time and improve effectiveness. “Keep your head down and focus on the core work for the first year before getting too involved in everything else. Say ‘yes’ to things that don’t have a long-term commitment, like committees that are appointed annually.”
“Calendaring is life!” said Dr. Malford Tyson Pillow, associate professor of medicine. “Block off family time and extra sleep time. Build in time before meetings to prepare and after meetings to write down your ideas. If you take care of yourself, you are more effective.”
Pillow, who also directs the residency program in emergency medicine and the simulation and standardized patient programs, recommended actively seeking out feedback. “Identify a mentor – or several different mentors – and run ideas by them to assess where you are and where you are headed,” he said.
“Take harsh criticism as constructive criticism,” advised Dr. Steen Pedersen, associate professor of molecular physiology and biophysics. “Feedback is not always kind and nice but make use of it.”
Dr. Geeta Singhal, associate professor of pediatrics, said she finds it helpful when going to a supervisor with a concern to also have a solution to propose. “Leaders hear complaints and concerns all day long and will find it helpful to hear a potential solution.”
Singhal, who also directs the faculty development office, recommended being open to new experiences: “Keep learning and get exposed to a lot of different things – you never know what you may become passionate about,” she said.
In closing, Dr. Paul Klotman offered his own advice to newcomers: “Faculty engagement is more than coming to work and doing your job. It is participating and getting involved in the life of the institution.”
“My job is to make you successful,” the president, CEO and executive dean said. “Faculty are our most important asset. Baylor is only successful if our faculty grow and succeed in their careers.”