From navigating and leveraging student differences in the classroom to using digital tools for student learning, new University of Michigan faculty members discovered ways to enhance their teaching at the New Faculty Orientation on Aug. 28.

The annual campuswide event is sponsored by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and the Office of the Provost.

Speaking to a packed Michigan League Ballroom, President Mark Schlissel conveyed the unique aspects of working at U-M and the quality of life in Ann Arbor, including the breadth of academic excellence and commitment to teaching.

“You will have wonderful experiences learning your role and finding your niche at U-M,” Schlissel said. He also addressed challenges that U-M continues to face, including finding the balance between protecting free speech while promoting a sense of inclusion, safety and equity on campus.

Photo of Nicole Tuttle, assistant director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, leading a discussion.
Nicole Tuttle, assistant director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, leads a discussion session at the New Faculty Orientation. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

The president offered words of advice to the different groups of faculty attending the orientation. For example, he encouraged assistant professors to exercise self-care and enjoy life while navigating the journey to tenure, and he emphasized the essential role lecturers and research scientists play in U-M’s excellence.

After opening remarks, the CRLT Players took the stage to perform “7 into 15,” a sketch prompting faculty to consider the ways in which they can more meaningfully contribute to an equitable and inclusive learning environment for students, peers and colleagues.

“I really enjoyed the performance and found it informative about the university,” said Tayler Schey, lecturer I in English language and literature, LSA.

Faculty members then broke into concurrent sessions focused on a range of teaching and learning topics, from “Research Based Practices for College Teaching” to “Strategies for Clinical Teaching in the Health Sciences.”

Provost Martin Philbert welcomed the faculty at lunch, telling them that it is fundamental to their work as scholars and teachers to consider the tension between individual political commitments and faculty responsibilities. Voicing concerns about such issues helps develop university policy and strengthens the community, he said.

 “At U-M, our purpose is to allow scholarship and learning to thrive. We encourage robust debate,” Philbert said.

The program ended with an information fair featuring representatives from 50 U-M offices.

Photo of Hitomi Tonomura, professor of history and women's studies, holding a complimentary “stress ball.”
Hitomi Tonomura, professor of history and women’s studies, collects a complimentary “stress ball” from the Faculty Senate table at the New Faculty Orientation information fair. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Leia Stirling, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering, College of Engineering, said she chose U-M because she enjoys the people and research projects within the college.

“U-M is a collaborative environment with partnership opportunities across different research areas,” Stirling said.

Regarding what she learned at the orientation, Swapnil Rai, assistant professor of film, television and media, LSA, said, “I now have a good sense of the student body dynamic and clarity about what to expect during my first term at the university.”