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New Faculty Meetings: Surviving The First Year Of The Tenure Track Together

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Survivor: The First Few Years

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.929.1 - 13.929.8



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Paper Authors


Ryan Beasley Texas A&M University

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Ryan Beasley is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006 as a result of his work on the control of surgical robots. His research activities involve designing surgical robots, developing virtual reality tools to enhance image-guided surgery, investigating haptic interfaces, and devising control algorithms for all the above.

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Ana Elisa Goulart Texas A&M University

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Dr. Ana Goulart is an assistant professor in the Telecommunications Engineering Technology program in the department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M. She has received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2005. In addition, she has worked for over 6 years as a hardware designer and communications analyst at IBM and Compaq Computer respectively. Her research has been on communication networks and protocols, including wireless networks and Internet telephony.

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Wei Zhan Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Wei Zhan is an Assistant Professor of Electronics Engineering Technology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Zhan earned his D.Sc. in Systems Science from Washington University in 1991. From 1991 to 1995 he worked at University of California, San Diego and Wayne State University. From 1995 to 2006, he worked in the automotive industry as a system engineer. In 2006 he joined the Electronics Engineering Technology faculty at Texas A&M. His research activities include control system theory and applications to industry, system engineering, robust design, modeling, simulation, quality control, and optimization.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

New Faculty Meetings:

Surviving the first year of the tenure track together


The initial years of a tenure track position are difficult for a variety of reasons, including the lack of preparation and experience that new faculty members have for various aspects of the job. Much advice has been given regarding the use of mentoring and workshops to accelerate the acclimatization period, but these methods may not involve the relaxed atmosphere and open discussion conducive to the development and free exchange of ideas and ideologies. In this paper, we discuss our approach of regular peer meetings of such discussions. Peer meetings promote the discussion of problems encountered by new faculty as the problems develop. Not only does discussing problems in such meetings assist in the creation of solutions, but everyone who participates in the discussion is thereafter prepared to avoid similar problems in the future. Considerations of group composition, group size, and what topics to discuss are examined.

I. Introduction

Traditionally, Assistant Professors begin their career with a minimum of preparation for certain aspects of the job. For example, many new faculty members are straight out of graduate school without experience developing research directions or preparing classes. According to work by Boice, new faculty generally take 4-5 years to build necessary experience before starting to meet the standards set by their institutions.1 Such lengthy adjustment periods have a negative impact on faculty performance and thus on the probability of tenure.

Common actions new faculty take to improve their performance include soliciting mentoring, attending workshops, and reading pertinent literature.1-9 Such actions can significantly assist in answering questions and providing useful skills, but do not always provide the opportunity to explore multiple approaches quickly. For example, a mentor or workshop will often provide a single approach for a given problem, whereas performing a literature search can take a significant amount of time. Additionally, all of these actions can suffer from a lack of discussion, whether due to the size of the workshop or the dynamic between mentor and mentee. As a supplement to these actions, we consider regular meetings with peers specifically for the wide range of perspectives presented and the emphasis on discussion.

As three new faculty members, we met weekly throughout our first year in order to hasten our own adjustment period by learning about different research fields, sharing opportunities for collaboration, talking about experiences from the classroom, discussing grant proposals, and providing support for each other. We believe these meetings have significantly eased our entry into academia and improved our chances for tenure, both through shared information and through the resulting collaborative papers and proposals. To encourage the formation of regular meetings between new faculty members, this paper investigates the discussion topics and results of our meetings, along with our suggestions for maximizing the usefulness of such meetings.

Beasley, R., & Goulart, A. E., & Zhan, W. (2008, June), New Faculty Meetings: Surviving The First Year Of The Tenure Track Together Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3198

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