University of Iowa

Getting Off to a Good Start

A Resource Guide for New and Early Career Faculty Members

For more information or to offer feedback, contact:

faculty@uiowa.edu
319.335.3991

Welcome to the University of Iowa!

I am pleased to share with you “Getting Off to a Good Start,” a guide to resources and advice to help you as you begin your career at the University of Iowa.   

New faculty members often face challenges in their first months – and these can occur in the areas of teaching, research, and the balancing of home and work life.  I am pleased to report that we have many resources and networks at the University to help you meet these challenges and thrive in your new position.

“Getting Off to a Good Start” introduces you to these resources and also provides some general tips for new faculty. The sections are chronologically sequenced to address your first days on campus all the way through your first year, and are categorized according to the following areas:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Service
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Career Development

I hope “Getting Off to a Good Start” will help you achieve career and personal successes.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me or my staff with any questions/suggestions.

Kevin Kregel
Associate Provost for Faculty

PDF iconGetting off to a Good Start at the University of Iowa

Before Classes Begin

Worklife

  • Settle in to your new community.  For information about the local area, including relocation and housing, children & family resources, schools, transportation, diversity and inclusion, etc., check out the UI Build a Career | Build a Life website.  For a basic overview of The University of Iowa, including campus maps, see The University of Iowa Facts at a Glance or the Campus Maps & Tours website.
  • Arrange your transportation to/from campus and, if needed, secure your parking permit.  The University of Iowa Parking and Transportation department and Commuter Programs offer useful information, including a bus pass program for UI faculty and staff and information about biking to/on campus.
  • If you are here with a spouse/partner or family, make sure they are aware of the local and campus resources, too.  Learn more about the University’s family-friendly benefits, including childcare and eldercare resources offered through UI Family Services, family-friendly policies including domestic partner benefits and faculty-related policies such as the tenure-clock extension policy, and wide-ranging community discounts available through UI Employee Discount programs
  • If your spouse/partner is seeking employment in the Iowa City area, the UI Dual Career Services may be a helpful resource.  The DCS staff has extensive experience in all areas of the job search process and provides a full range of services to the spouses/partners of UI faculty and staff. The DCS tailors its programs to your needs and maintains an extensive network of approximately 500+ business contacts throughout the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor. 
  • Partners/spouses looking for employment can also open a jobseeker account via the Central Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC). The HERC offers numerous resources for dual-career couples, including an online job board supported by numerous local employers.
  • Make a plan to care for your physical health and fitness.  LiveWELL and Recreational Services websites provide many excellent campus and local resources to assist you in taking care of yourself.
  • As an employee of the University of Iowa, UI Human Resources may be able to answer specific questions you have about working at the University, including issues related to University Payroll or University Benefits.  You will have an opportunity to discuss these issues at the New Faculty Orientation, but specific questions may be answered by consulting these websites in advance.
  • If you have a question and can’t find the answer, send an email to faculty@uiowa.edu.  A staff member in the Office of the Provost will respond and direct you to useful resources.

Teaching

Research

Career Development

  • Attend New Faculty Orientation programs.  Several orientations occur in August, including those hosted by the Office of the Provost, UI Human Resources, and your respective college and department.   You will receive invitations informing you of specific dates and location.  The Center for Teaching also offers teaching workshops during the first week of the Fall semester.  Even though you won’t retain all of the information, orientation sessions are important as an opportunity to learn more about the university and available resources.  For more information about the Office of the Provost New Faculty Orientation.
  • Introduce yourself to the faculty and staff in your department.  Start the year off right by beginning to develop collegial relationships and networks.  Make sure you get to know the departmental staff who can become valuable and supportive colleagues in your career.
  • Familiarize yourself with the software on your computer and other technological tools that might be of use.  For information or training, see the listing of UI Information Technology Services workshops, or on-line courses available to UI faculty, staff and students through e-Learning resources such as Myquickcoach.
  • Review University calendars for upcoming faculty development workshops and place the dates on your calendar now.  Each semester, the Provost Office coordinates a Campus-wide Faculty Development Calendar featuring workshops provided by numerous campus offices (e.g., Research, Center for Teaching, IT).  Your department and college may also offer programs tailored specifically to your discipline (e.g., the Carver College of Medicine Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education or the CCOM Faculty Career Development Seminars). 
  • As you set up your office, build in “Green” habits now to integrate recycling and sustainability into your workplace.  See the Office of Sustainability to learn more about UI sustainability strategies, including initiatives such as Energy & Climate, Food, Recycling & Waste Reduction, and Transportation.

During Your First Month

Career Development

  • Teach.  Practice in a clinic.  Mentor students.  Organize your lab and research assistants.  In other words, settle in and do exactly what you were hired to do. 
  • Attend all social and departmental functions in your Department.  Integrating yourself from the beginning in the functioning of the department will assist you in having the information you need to provide leadership, relevant to your career stage.  Isolation is also often cited as a common problem for new faculty, so become an active participant  and connect with others.
  • Be active in asking questions and seeking out resources.  If you have a question and don’t know who to ask, send an email to Faculty@uiowa.edu and a staff member in the Office of the Provost will offer suggestions.
  • Familiarize yourself with the University’s policies on areas such as human rights, diversity, and discrimination. Understand your role and responsibilities as a faculty member in upholding the policies.
  • Complete any required compliance trainings for your position.  Consult with your departmental office to determine the specific requirements.  For example, all new UI employees with greater than 50% appointments must complete a Sexual Harassment Prevention Education course within the first months of employment and all new instructors must complete an online FERPA training program.
  • Activate a UI-sponsored individual membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). The UI has an institutional membership in this national online faculty development resource, which allows all UI employees free access to the NCFDD tele-workshops, e-newsletter with faculty success tips, facilitated learning communities, resources and tools.
  • Get out of your office now and then.  Participate in at least one faculty development workshop and/or campus forum.  Check your college, department, Office of the Provost, and the Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology for events.

Research

  • Ensure that the research support and facilities promised to you in your offer letter are available.  If not, contact your department chair to develop a timeline for completion.

Teaching

WorkLife

  • Invite a new faculty member whom you met during the New Faculty orientation to lunch or coffee. 
  • If you are an international faculty member and/or interested in international programs, become familiar with the support and resources provided by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) and Faculty and Staff Immigration Services.  Learn about upcoming programs and events by staying connected through subscribing to the International Programs e-newsletter or connecting via other forms of social media.

Service

  • The most important “service” you can give the institution and your discipline right now is getting acclimated to your new faculty role.  Don’t make any commitments this first month; wait until you settle in and know the general rhythm that your career will take on before committing yourself.

During Your First Semester

Career Development

  • Arrange a meeting with the chair of your department to discuss requirements and procedures for promotion and tenure review.  Inform yourself about the University of Iowa’s Promotion Procedures for all regular-track faculty and adjuncts.
  • Create a Career Development Plan that includes the following guidelines for early career faculty success championed by Robert Boice, who studied faculty success factors :
  1. Set a goal of limiting classroom preparation time by the second semester to a maximum of two hours per hour of lecture. This target is extremely difficult for many professors to attain and may be impossible for certain disciplines, but those who manage to reach it find that they can still cover what they want to cover, appear more relaxed to their students, and are better able to maintain a pace that encourages active student involvement in class. Boice found that one of the biggest mistakes of early career teachers was over-preparing for lectures, which resulted in providing too much material with too little time built in for student engagement with the material.  The time spent over-preparing was also detrimental to the other areas of their faculty portfolio, particularly research and writing.
  2. Spend [at least] 30-60 minutes each day on scholarly writing. New faculty often feel they must have long unbroken stretches of time to write, but the demands of an academic career seldom allow this luxury. Research has shown that writing for a set time each day (as little as 15 minutes per day) leads to increased productivity and fewer feelings of anxiety over failure to meet scholarly productivity expectations.
  3. Spend at least 2 hours a week on discussions with colleagues focused on teaching and research. Periodic meetings over lunch are convenient for such networking.  It is difficult for most new faculty members to meet this commitment, but doing so pays big dividends. Good contacts provide ideas and sometimes tangible assistance in getting a research program off the ground and/or improving teaching success.
  4. Keep daily records of work- time expenditure. Recording their time commitments helps early career faculty self-monitor how well they are meeting Commitments 1–3.
  5. Integrate research interests into lectures. Doing so leads to greater enthusiasm for teaching as well as recruitment of students as research assistants. (Brent & Felder, 1998)
  • If you haven’t done so yet, activate a UI-sponsored individual membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). The UI has an institutional membership in this national online faculty development resource, which allows all UI employees free access to the NCFDD tele-workshops, e-newsletter with faculty success tips, facilitated learning communities, resources and tools.
  • Develop a career advisory network of peers, internal departmental mentors, and external mentors.  The NCFDD has developed a tool to help you think through “Your Mentoring Network.” 
  • Sign up with an on-line academic career development network.  These networks vary in their support, but many send regular reminders that support you in your research and teaching agendas.  Examples of useful on-line networks include:  SuccessfulAcademic.com, National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, Tomorrow’s Professor.
  • Create a “positive feedback” file, which includes supportive e-mails and letters of thanks from students and colleagues.
  • If you haven’t yet, familiarize yourself with the organizational structure of your department and the campus community.

Research

Teaching

  • Invite a faculty colleague or staff member of the Center for Teaching to sit-in on one of your classes and comment on your teaching.  Request permission to sit in on the classroom of a senior faculty member known for his or her exceptional teaching.
  • Be aware of the recommendation to new faculty members to limit classroom preparation to a maximum of two hours per hour of lecture (Boice, 1992). For numerous reasons, many early career faculty members over-prepare for lectures, leaving too little time for their research, writing, and networking.  Depending on your discipline, the 2 to 1 ratio may not be possible.  Seek out suggestions for developing teaching strategies that provide the necessary content and engage students in active learning, while also not leaving you having over-prepared to the detriment of your research and writing.
  • Don’t hesitate to call upon the resources available through Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology or contact the ITS Help Desk - 319.384.HELP (4357) | its-helpdesk@uiowa.edu, as you continue to creatively use technology in your instruction.

WorkLife

  • Get to know the Iowa City/Coralville community through the following websites: UI Build a Career | Build a LifeIowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Iowa City Downtown District.  Learn about the history of the University of Iowa and the State of Iowa through the Old Capitol Museum
  • Revisit the list above and make time to do the actions that you didn’t have time to do in your first semester, and that you continue to believe will benefit you and your family.
  • Maintaining work/life boundaries is easier if you have a clear focus and sense of purpose guiding your activities.  If you haven’t yet, write a personal mission statement that includes all of your life roles (e.g., professor, spouse/partner, parent, son/daughter).  Clarify your goals within each role and plan your time accordingly.  (Ostrow, 2000)

Service

During Your First Year

Career Development

  • Anticipate the natural rhythms of the academic year.  Prepare for increased busy-ness during the spring semester - plan ahead and stay on track.
  • Prepare for and make good use of your Annual Review.  Refer to the University policies and procedures for Promotion and Tenure (which can be found on the Provost website), as well as your collegiate policies, procedures, and resources for preparing review materials (e.g., the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website, on Promotion and Tenure).
  • Review the dossiers of other successful academics. 
  • Familiarize yourself with institutional policies and procedures.  Spend a few minutes reading the UI Faculty Handbook. Understand how your role as a faculty member supports the UI Student Success Team Initiatives, including The Message Project, which identifies clear, shared expectations for undergraduate students at Iowa.
  • Attend a Faculty Senate meeting with a senior colleague to learn how faculty governance works at The University of Iowa.
  • Become aware of the campus resources available to assist you should you experience challenges, See the “Important University of Iowa Resources” section at the end of this document for offices ready and willing to support you.

Research

  • Revisit and revise your writing goals and career development plan.  Are you staying on track?  If not, explore and address the barriers to productivity. 
  • Work with a senior mentor to develop a plan to submit proposals and papers to significant national and international conferences and journals in your field.
  • Investigate types and deadlines of various UI faculty awards and funding opportunities.  Consult your department for collegiate opportunities.  See the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research for Internal Funding Initiatives, and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies for campus-wide faculty opportunities.
  • Explore external funding opportunities through the Division of Sponsored Program’s Grant Bulletin.

Teaching

  • Maintain a teaching portfolio with all class materials, assignments, syllabi, and exams.  See the UI Center for Teaching for Teaching Portfolio resources.
  • Discuss your teaching load with your department chair and avoid, if possible, excessive new preps, large class sizes (without teaching assistants), and hectic teaching schedules.

WorkLife

Service

  • Seek guidance from your department chair and mentors regarding importance/relevance of service requests and committee service, as they relate to tenure and promotion.  Learn how to say “no” and when to say “yes.”
  • Faculty of color and women faculty often have extra service requested of them as “solo” faculty.  Be aware of the potential of this extra burden and seek support in prioritizing your pre-tenure service expectations as they relate to mentoring students, “diversifying” committees, and supporting institutional change initiatives.
  • Learn about your department’s expectations of new faculty’s service requirements.  Also ask about how those expectations change from pre/post tenure.

 Important University of Iowa Resources

In addition to collegiate resources, the following resources may be useful to understand your rights and responsibilities as a faculty member.

Additional information can be found on the University of Iowa Faculty Policies and Useful Campus Resources document https://provost.uiowa.edu/sites/provost.uiowa.edu/files/fac-policies.pdf

Sources Cited and Other New Faculty Resources

The concept for this resource was drawn from “Tips for Getting Off to a Good Start at Armstrong," Armstrong State University.