Congratulations on your appointment as Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences.  At this early stage in your career as a teacher and scholar, I encourage you to take advantage of the School’s "First Two Years" program, which is designed to help you maximize your potential and scholarly growth.  This cohort-based group mentoring program is an insider’s guide to being a faculty member.  “The First Two Years” will help you connect with the community of scholars outside your disciplines and departments, learn "the lay of the land" from experienced faculty members, and develop strategies for successful teaching, research, tenure preparation, and working with colleagues. 

I encourage you to join and become an active participant in this dynamic community of scholars.

With warm wishes for a rewarding year,

Steven J. Fluharty

Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience

About the Program

The First Two Years is a group mentoring program designed to assist junior faculty in the process of getting settled in the School of Arts and Sciences and the University.  Developed in 2018 by former Diversity Search Advisors (DSAs) Annette Lareau, Greg Guild, and Kathy Peiss, the program is supported by the School of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office.  

Research suggests that not everyone picks up equally on implicit cultural cues and the “rules of the game” in institutions.  Yet, these implicit expectations can matter in building a career.  This program is intended to help new faculty get oriented to Penn, have a cohort experience where they get to know other junior faculty, and get a good start.  Our goal is to provide an “insider’s guide” to being a faculty member.

Participants will:

  • Get to know a cohort of other new faculty at the beginning of their careers.
  • Develop strategies for successful teaching, research, tenure preparation, working with colleagues, and much more.  
  • Learn "the lay of the land" from experienced faculty members.

Junior standing faculty in their first or second year are eligible for this yearlong lunch workshop series.  The program meets  on the second Friday of the month (except in January and March, which meets on the third Friday of the month to accommodate the fall, winter and spring breaks) between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m.

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.



Meeting time and location:

The program meets over a complimentary lunch, location TBD, on the second Friday of the month (except in January and March, which meets on the third Friday of the month to accommodate the winter and spring breaks) between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m

Time commitment:

Participants must commit to attending at least six of the eight workshops in the series. 

Program Dates



  • September 9, 2022
  • October 14, 2022
  • November 11, 2022
  • December 9, 2022
  • January 20, 2023
  • February 10, 2023
  • March 17, 2023
  • April 14, 2023
  • Grants Workshops: May 9 and 10, 2023


The First Two Years is an interdisciplinary program open to all junior standing faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences who are in their first or second year.  It is distinct from the group mentoring programs offered by the Provost: the Penn Faculty Pathways Program, serving junior faculty in the natural sciences; and Net-Humanities, serving junior faculty in the humanities.  For those interested in both programs, it is recommended that you enroll in the The First Two Years program first, as its content is geared toward newer (first and second year) junior faculty, while the Provost's programs are geared toward those at a slightly more advanced stage in their careers (second or third year). 

How to Apply:

Before applying,  be sure to read the "Time Commitment" section above.  Then, complete the online registration form. You'll be asked for recent CV and a brief description of your previous experiences of professional development. 

 Application Due Date: 

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, but they must arrive no later than August 12, 2022. Questions can be directed to Participants will be notified by August 19.


Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology, serves as Faculty Leader for the program


Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, serves as an advisor to the program.

Chavez photo

Special Projects Coordinator in the School of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office, provides administrative and logistical support.

Each session is led by experienced faculty members representing the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.  For a list of speakers, see the "Curriculum Topics" section above.

For more information, please contact:

Annette Lareau, Faculty Leader:

Jody Chavez, Special Projects Coordinator: