President Mark S. Schlissel told educators assembled for the New Faculty Orientation on Wednesday that he was joining them on a special journey.
Schlissel — also a professor in the Medical School and LSA — told those gathered at the Michigan League they were joining an academic community of more than 3,000 faculty who are among the most talented in their fields, with limitless potential to impact students and society.
“You join us as the university approaches its third century of discovery and service, and at a time when society looks to us more than ever for answers. What will our impact be together in the years ahead?” he asked.
The president shared his vision for U-M, saying he wants the university to be known for research that stimulates economic growth, for creative works that enrich culture, for scholarship that enhances human understanding and promotes sustainability, and as a home for civil discourse on a range of challenging issues.
“But I don’t want us to lose sight of those personal moments where interaction with a faculty mentor can change, or even save the lives of our students,” he said.
He encouraged faculty members to take advantage of their colleagues’ expertise, and to seek out talent throughout the university, including through the Center For Research on Learning and Teaching, which organized the event.
“The comprehensive nature of Michigan’s excellence allows for synergy at Michigan between scholars working in different disciplines that, really, no other institution can match. It’s what is so exciting and powerful about this university,” Schlissel said.
The event opened with morning workshop sessions. There was also a performance by the CRLT Players sparking conversation about Michigan’s diverse students and the faculty’s roles and responsibilities.
At lunch, faculty panelists addressed “What It’s Like to Work at Michigan.” After that, Provost Martha Pollock told new faculty they would be pleased with their U-M work environment, and with living in Ann Arbor.
“Our students are amazing. You will be blown away by what wonderful kids they are,” she said, adding that she’s been part of many conversations among university leaders about what makes U-M special. “We always come back to the breadth of excellence here.”
Pollack said U-M also holds a deep abiding commitment to diversity. “We live and breathe the value of diversity and will double our efforts on that going forward,” she said.
After morning workshops, new faculty gathered for an Information Fair.
Sarah Kile, assistant professor of Asian languages and cultures, talked of a teaching-with-technology session she attended. “I learned about Google Tools and CTools. That was very useful to me, for engaging students in large classes,” she said.
Samir Rawashdeh, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UM-Dearborn, said he appreciated a session that addressed what motivates students, and the social challenges that come up in classrooms. “I like having an opportunity to mingle with people from other departments,” he added.
Joshua Ackerman, assistant professor of social psychology, LSA, said the CRLT Players skits, and presentations on technology and teaching, were particularly helpful. “I think the orientation is generally useful as a sort of overview of programs out there,” he said.
Elisabeta Karl, clinical assistant professor of dentistry, said the Teaching Critical Thinking in the Clinic morning session was very good. “They were talking about what is good feedback to students, and when is a good time to provide feedback.”