Nearly 170 new University of Michigan faculty members gathered virtually Aug. 25 for an orientation event sponsored by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and the Office of the Provost.
Speaking via Zoom, President Mark Schlissel, Provost Susan M. Collins, and Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham outlined a rich array of resources and encouraged newcomers to reach out to colleagues both within their home units and across disciplines as they launch their careers at U-M.
Schlissel highlighted key cross-campus initiatives, such as anti-racism and sustainability efforts, and he pointed out the importance of engaged scholarship.
“It’s very important to me that our scholars, in addition to being committed to their own research fields, focus some of their activity outwards and help the public really see and understand the value of a public research university,” he said.
He also reaffirmed the university’s commitment to promoting public health and safety, for example through the mask and vaccine mandates.
Collins encouraged new faculty to continue pursuing work that challenges the present and enriches the future. She also offered advice about navigating ongoing uncertainty.
“Being kind and generous with others can help all of us to manage in current circumstances and may also help set the tone for a ‘new normal’ that is rooted in respect and understanding,” she said.
Cunningham described the extensive array of programs and funding available to support faculty research, which has returned to near “normal” levels. Matt Kaplan, CRLT’s executive director, directed faculty members to a new CRLT blog post on “Navigating the Return to In-Person Teaching.”
In the second half of the orientation, the CRLT Players presented “Act for Equity,” a pre-recorded performance centered on experiences of students navigating systemic inequities.
Following the performance, new faculty had the opportunity to interact with colleagues in small breakout sessions to reflect on the sketch’s depiction of barriers faced by learners and to consider possible teaching strategies and interventions to disrupt patterns of inequity.
In addition to the synchronous webinar, faculty received links to a Canvas site with curated resources from nearly 40 campus offices that support teaching, research and faculty work life.