New Faculty Orient Themselves to Life at RIC
New faculty (clockwise): Leonardo Pinheiro, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, talks with his mentor Anita Duneer, associate professor of English; Andrea Dottolo, Department of Psychology; Jinsoo Kim, Department of Communications; Barkat Ullah, Department of Economics and Finance; and Medini Padmanabhan, Department of Physical Science.
At the New Faculty Orientation on Aug. 20, RIC Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Pitt expressed pride in the new group of faculty.
Out of numerous applicants, 27 were selected to join the ranks of the School of Education, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Management and the Henry Barnard School.
In his welcoming remarks, Pitt said, “Many of you have had full-time teaching experience, while some of you are new to teaching, but no matter what your level of experience, there is much to learn here at RIC.”
“You’ll find that the college has extremely high standards for faculty,” he said, “not simply from the administration but from the faculty in your own department.”
To assist and support new faculty in their teaching and research, the daylong orientation familiarized the uninitiated with the resources available to them. One such resource is the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, directed by Associate Professor of Communication Bonnie MacDonald.
“Our motto is For Faculty, By Faculty,” said MacDonald.
At the FCTL, faculty can walk in or schedule an appointment to receive one-on-one support for course development and syllabus design, online course design and redesign, help with class discussion and crafting assignments, and to learn more about best practices.
The center hosts monthly, moderated panel discussions with faculty on teaching strategies. It also offers faculty training in Blackboard via Blackboard Boot Camps as well as week-long summer seminars in hybrid course development and in teaching writing and/or oral presentation.
“Other supports at the college are your department chairs,” said Pitt. “And, of course, you have each other.”
New this year is the Faculty Mentor Program wherein full-time, incoming faculty members are matched with experienced faculty mentors who help newcomers get the most out of their first year at RIC.
“Your mentor can help you figure out how to balance your teaching load and what to expect in the tenure and promotion process,” said MacDonald.
New faculty were also given a profile of the students who will study under them.
Shadoian, in charge of enrollment management, said, “Of all the four-year institutions in Rhode Island, we have the highest percentage of Rhode Island residents in our student body. In addition, most of the students we admit to the college are in the top half of their high school graduating class.”
“At the other end of the bell curve are our high-achieving students in the honors program or presidential scholars or students who have earned other merit awards. They, too, find great success and great connections at RIC,” she said.
“And then we have a group of students who are really important to our mission. They are what we call students with promise. They are students who may have exhibited some struggles but who also show great potential,” she said.
RIC’s average class size is 20 students, Shadoian said. “Our classes are small enough for you to get a chance to know your students and interact with them.”
This year, RIC faculty will serve 7,500 undergraduates.
“Though we are very proud of our students, we are equally proud of our faculty,” Shadoian said. “They are scholars and researchers whose primary objective is teaching undergraduate students. They serve as mentors, they get students involved in research, they help students lift their potential to an even higher level than students think is possible.”
The New Faculty Orientation was sponsored by the FCTL and included a welcome by Pamela Christman, assistant vice president for information services; a demonstration of the MyRIC Portal by Kyle Jackson, information technologist for User Support Services; a quick tour of Blackboard by Marie Beardwood, academic technologist for FCTL; an overview of the resources available at Adams Library by Tish Brennan, head of reference and research support, and Brian Baker, reserves supervisor; lunch with RIC President Nancy Carriuolo and Vice President Pitt; a panel discussion about the joy of teaching, moderated by MacDonald, with panelists Professor of Music Teresa Coffman, Assistant Professor of Biology Geoff Stilwell, Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Holl and Associate Professor of Art Natasha Seaman; and a closing reception where new faculty met their mentors.