For the second year, new faculty at The University of Texas-Pan American were welcomed to campus Aug. 19 as part of the New Faculty Support Program, which helps incoming faculty members adjust to their new environment.
Fifty-five full-time, tenure and tenure-track faculty who are new this fall to UTPA attended the program's opening reception and a two-day academic orientation. The year-long initiative was designed to help incoming faculty adjust to their new academic and community surroundings at UTPA.
Throughout the year, the program offers a series of luncheon presentations and workshops, and includes one-on-one peer mentoring support from experienced faculty in the new faculty member's discipline, as well as the development of a professional growth plan and information sessions on topics ranging from grant development to effective presentation and publication of research results.
"The faculty are our greatest asset and we want a smooth transition for them," said UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Sale. "We want to build up faculty and want to enhance their experience here. We want to make sure that the investment we put forth in getting them here pays great return for our students, because they are most important."
Dr. Ala Qubbaj, director of the New Faculty Support Program, said the program was developed to ease and support new faculty members in their transition to the University and the Rio Grande Valley.
"As part of the University's strategic direction, we want to empower our new faculty, through the support of this program, to meet the learning needs of students," Qubbaj said.
During the first day of the academic orientation, faculty members got to hear from a variety of different departments on campus, community leader Keith Patridge, president of the McAllen Economic Development Co., as well as UTPA student Tony Matamoros, a senior majoring in political science and history.
New faculty members had the opportunity to watch a five-minute video profiling Matamoros, where he talked about his beginnings as a migrant farmworker and the hardships he faced while growing up and how that shaped his experiences as a student.
"I hope that by my being here today that you are better able to understand the lives of some UTPA students," Matamoros said. "As professors you have the power to empower, befriend, mentor and guide students."
"I think it's really helpful to get to know other faculty who are coming to the same place and who are sharing the same concerns and excitement," she said. "I think it's nice to get a heads up in what's happening across the University."
Dr. Chintal Desai, who will be working in the Department of Economics and Finance, said he came to UTPA because of the research resources and opportunities available and felt the program was very beneficial to new faculty.
"This program gives us a good head start and facilitates a smooth transition into the University," Desai said. "I think the program will be very useful because it will give us a good idea of what expectations are. It's also very nice to have this one place where you get the opportunity to meet a variety of people from different offices."