Curriculum topics vary slightly from year to year. Each session is led by experienced faculty members representing the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
September 9, 2022: The Lay of the Land: Tips for Getting Oriented to SAS and Penn
All institutions have their own logics. Sometimes, these things are so taken for granted, that colleagues simply (and unfairly) assume that new faculty know the “rules of the game.” You are invited for lunch, and a workshop, to meet other new faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and, more importantly, learn many small but crucial pieces of information. Topics include finding your way in faculty meetings, colloquia, and other new faculty events.
October 14, 2022: Time: Not Enough of It
One of the challenges of being an Assistant Professor is that many people want you to do something for them. How do you adjudicate among all of these different requests? How do you set priorities? In particular, how do you juggle requests to do things on campus compared to other priorities, particularly the need to do research and writing? Many Assistant Professors feel overwhelmed. This workshop will provide concrete advice for managing the demands of the first two years. It will also give you a set of principles to guide your decision making.
November 11, 2022: Mentoring Up and Down
Assistant Professors are told to develop mentors, but it is far from clear how to make that happen. Sometimes mentors are also unhelpful. Furthermore, Assistant Professors are in the middle: they have important forms of control over students, employees, and some staff members in lab, teaching, and other settings. Yet, they also feel vulnerable and powerless with more senior faculty, chairs, and high-level administrators. In these relationships, there are routinely tensions and conflicts. This session will help faculty members develop strategies for making the most out of your mentoring relationships.
December 9, 2022: A Whole Person: Being a Professor with Competing Obligations
Although research, teaching, and service are crucial parts of a life, they are not the only things professors do. Professors have families, some have children, and social lives. Faculty members often face life challenges as they help their partners get settled in a new city, raise their young children, help their parents with life challenges, and juggle many other obligations. Join us for an informal conversation about the challenges in finding balance with a demanding career and strategies for success.
January 20, 2023: Learning to Teach and Dealing with Evaluations
Panel moderated by Bruce Lenthall (Center for Teaching and Learning)
For new Assistant Professors, teaching early in a career can be challenging. There are many new tasks: dealing with angry students who feel that they deserve a better grade, figuring out how much work to assign, managing teaching assistants, preparing lectures and assigning grades. Even developing a syllabus can have a learning curve. New faculty can find teaching evaluations hard to discern as well as disappointing in their results. This session will provide valuable tips for (time-efficient) ways to manage teaching and to help make teaching more rewarding. This workshop will discuss the pleasures of teaching, as well as the challenges.
February 10, 2023: Third-Year Reviews and Tenure Reviews
Each college is different, and the purpose of this meeting is to explain how things work at Penn in the School of Arts and Sciences. What kinds of things do Chairs, Deans, and the Personnel Committee look for in an outstanding file? Who is on the Personnel committee? How does it work? What is the timeline? Current and former members of the SAS Personnel committee will speak. We will provide information on the kinds of letters department chairs would like to be able to write at tenure. This workshop will give you deeper insight into a stressful, but crucial, step in building a successful career at Penn.
March 17, 2023: Career topics breakout sessions: Managing a Lab / Getting a Book Contract & Publishing
In this session, we’ll break into two groups based on field: a) Managing a Lab, and b) The publishing process: Getting a Book Contract. Group A will discuss the nuts and bolts of getting your lab set up, including personnel issues like hiring, building a team, and how much to delegate; as well as liability, best practices for managing budgets, and more. Group B will provide an overview of the publishing industry, steps in publishing a book, and the pros and cons on timing for when to submit your manuscript for review.
April 14, 2023: Reflections from Newly-Tenured Faculty
Being a faculty member is a journey. In this session, we will hear from recently tenured faculty in a variety of disciplines to hear their reflections on challenges they faced in the process, what went well, and what they wished had been different. Most junior faculty are awarded tenure. This session will help you hear from your colleagues on what they would advise you to do at this point in your career.
In addition, all junior faculty are invited to two important workshops: a grants workshop and a writing retreat:
May 9th, 2023: First Two Years Grants Workshop in the Humanities (ACLS, NEH, and other grants) 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and
May 10th, 2023: First Two Years Grant Workshop in the Natural Sciences and Social Sciences (NIH, NSF, and others) 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Grants are an important part of the expectations for new faculty, and yet the competition is very stiff. This workshop is designed to help junior faculty learn the elements of an outstanding proposal as well as “rookie mistakes” to avoid. Two concurrent workshop sessions will be offered: one which is focused on NSF and NIH grants and a second which is focused on major foundation grants such as ALCS and Mellon.
Each workshop will feature a panel discussion, led by an Associate Dean and a relevant program officer. Participants are expected to read and write reviews of two grant proposals, which they will review in a mock panel at the workshop in order to illuminates the key challenges proposals face. Workshop participants will each have two mentors read the proposal. Participants commit to sharing a draft of their grant proposal with their mentors one month before the deadline. In addition, workshop participants will share their reviews with one another and have a discussion at the November meeting for the First Two Years Workshop. After lunch with the new faculty in the fall meeting, they will convene to debrief on the experience and get additional advice.
Faculty who are enrolled in the workshop, The First Two Years, automatically are admitted to the grants workshop. To be effective, the workshop needs to be small. If there is space, additional SAS faculty will be admitted; priority will be given to former members of The First Two Years program.
SAS-GSE Writing Retreat: Dates TBD; usually held over five days in early June
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, lunch is served
Organizers: Ayako Kano, East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Jennifer Moore, GSE
Since 2012, a writing retreat has happened which has invited SAS and GSE faculty to spend one week writing together in a room on campus. Faculty commit to only work on their writing during that time. A professional editor, provided by GSE, is onsite during the week to discuss writing projects with faculty. The lunch provides a chance for faculty to meet other faculty in SAS and GSE to build valuable connections. There are four or five follow-up mini writing retreats during the academic year. All faculty are invited.