33 new faculty hired, faculty orientation provides transition opportunity

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On Saturday, August 22, DePauw officially welcomed 619 new students onto its campus. Just a few days beforehand, and with a bit less fanfare, 33 new faculty members were also introduced to their new home.

Of these 33, seven are tenure track, 10 are term, 10 are part-time, three are visiting professionals and the final three are postdoctoral scholars.

According to Dean of Faculty Carrie Klaus, these numbers stack up about equally with last year’s.

“It’s pretty typical; I think we had five [tenure line professors] last year. Some years more, some years less, but all in all about the same,” she said.

These seven add to DePauw’s 225 current professors who either are tenured or are on the tenure track, enabling DePauw to hold steady at its 10:1 student-faculty ratio.

“There’s a lot of investment and university time and energy that goes into making sure we find the right people to bring to the classroom here at DePauw,” Klaus said.

Tenured track positions can be incredibly competitive, since long-term professorships are highly sought after, and when a department has gained approval to add a tenured position the applications can reach into the hundreds.

But Vice President of Academic Affairs Anne Harris believes that DePauw has something to offer to all new faculty, not just those who will be here long term.

“I feel like we’re a very healthy institution when it comes, not just to supporting tenure lines but to supporting term faculty—with mentoring, with a community, with all the events that happen here,” Harris said.

Faculty not hired into tenure line positions can be here for as short a time as one semester, and include term professors (professors who normally come to DePauw to teach classes for professors who are on sabbatical), postdoctoral scholars (instructors who have finished graduated school and are here for one year. They teach three classes instead of the usual six while also focusing on their professional development.) and visiting professionals (those with short-term titled professorships, the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, for example).

“We try to have our classes taught by continuing faculty as much as we can, but some of the term people bring some interesting expertise and complement the curriculum well,” Klaus said, adding that, “We don’t want students to have difficulty finding classes just because someone is on sabbatical.”

Klaus also stressed that the part-time professors, many of whom work within the School of Music of the modern languages department, can often be long-term hires.

“There are a lot of part-time people who are experts and have been here for twenty, thirty years,” she said.

While some of these hires were made back in fall of 2014, some weren’t finalized until this summer. Luckily for new faculty with little transition time—or even for those who’ve had a year to plan and just weren’t sure what to expect until they got here—a new faculty orientation took place August 18 and 19.

During this two-day period, Faculty Development Coordinator Jeff Kenny, who describes himself as a “talk show host” for the event, introduces new faculty to numerous campus resources. These include staff from Academic Affairs, Student Life, the W, Q and S Centers, Human Resources and the Registrar’s Office.

“It’s kind of a smorgasbord of different institutional offices that come in and speak to the new faculty to let them know what’s happening, what information is available, what different offices do,” Kenny said.

Every new faculty member is invited to attend this orientation, and this year Kenny estimates that around 25 of the 33 took the university up on this offer. Aside from a rundown of resources, those new faculty members who made an appearance also had the chance to speak with long-standing DePauw professors. This year, this included assistant professor of anthropology Lydia Marshall, associate professor of philosophy Rich Cameron and associate professor of physics and astronomy John Caraher.

“Faculty come in to talk about their own perceptions and talk about students: what they have to do in classes, what do they take special care to do in classes, how do they put together a syllabus,” Kenny said. “It’s almost like the ABCs but from a basic insight perspective.”

While Harris wasn’t involved in the hiring process for any of the new faculty, due both to the newness of her position and the fact that she spent the last year on sabbatical, she got the chance to get to know them during this orientation, and is looking forward to what the year holds.

“I would say get to know the new faculty,” she said. “A lot of what I know of them is that my colleagues found them to be the best candidates, and that’s exciting.”

-Look out for articles by The DePauw highlighting specific new faculty members in our features section.