Dear Faculty Relations – We spent months recruiting and hiring a new faculty member. Now that they have arrived, I’m not sure what is important to do next to make sure we can retain them. – The Chair Who Values New Hires
Dear Chair Who Values New Hires - You and your colleagues spent months recruiting and hiring this new faculty member. Now that they are here welcome them warmly—first impressions matter. Perhaps get your executive committee or 2 or 3 other interested faculty to be an 'informal' welcoming committee to help the faculty member get situated, invite them over for dinner, take them out for lunch, and help navigate local needs such as health care, dentist, schools, and other potential needs that are hard to know about without trusted colleagues and friends.
One now more senior faculty member told us of a case many years ago when she was the first new hire in her department in seven years. She arrived and set about working in her office; no one welcomed her on her first day. Or the second day. Or the first week. How do you imagine she felt? (And this was before Covid-19 entered our lives!)
What if this had been the message this new faculty member received?
“Welcome aboard. I am happy to be welcoming you to our unit. I am looking forward to your ideas and fresh perspectives. I know there is a learning curve to starting a new position in a new place; feel free to ask me any questions or let me know how I can be of help. Let's grab a coffee or a lunch next week.”
Take the time to welcome your new faculty members and make them feel wanted and excited to join CU Boulder. Here are some ideas you can do to be friendly and inviting:
- Greet them with friendliness every time you see them.
- Write a welcome email. Make them feel recognized and remind them of what you are excited about that they will bring to your unit. Let them know you look forward to supporting them along the way.
- Put something on their desk that lets you know you thought of them: a CU Buff notebook, some department swag, or a plant with a welcome note.
- Stop by their office to say hello and engage in a bit of chit-chat. For example, ask them about New Faculty Orientation.
- Ask your colleagues to do the same; if they haven’t already, ask them to make a gesture to welcome the new faculty member.
- Let them know there is a learning curve, and you are available to answer their questions. They are more likely to go to someone they know than someone they don’t.
- Let them know which staff or faculty can assist them with specific things.
- Think through who would be the appropriate academic mentor in your unit so they have someone they know they can go to.
- Make a newcomer announcement to the department at your first faculty meeting. Update your website to include the new hire.
- Let them know how to get things done, like requesting OIT desktop support or ordering supplies.
Remember, new faculty often feel nervous. What can you do to help them feel more comfortable? Let them know that their presence in your unit will make it a better place and that you look forward to working with them.
Written by Suzanne Soled, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Support and Director of Faculty Relations, Office of Faculty Affairs, University of Colorado Boulder, and Donna Goldstein, Faculty Director, Office of Faculty Affairs and Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, August 202