Dr. Joseph Nwankpa, a first-year faculty member at The University of Texas-Pan American, said he has received invaluable information and mentorship from this year's New Faculty Mentorship Excellence Award winner Dr. Bin Wang, associate professor in the Department of Computer Information Systems and Quantitative Methods.
Both faculty members were participants in the New Faculty Support Program initiated in 2007 at UT Pan American with the goal of supporting and retaining new faculty by helping them adjust to their new academic environment and learn UTPA's system and campus. New faculty are paired with experienced faculty members who provide one-on-one peer mentoring on teaching, research, and funding opportunities. Mentors give their new faculty mentees assistance in preparing for their first-year tenure review and developing a five-year professional growth plan.
The program also offers activities to orient new faculty members to the University and its culture including welcoming and end-of-the year receptions, academic orientation and training luncheons and workshops. The New Faculty Mentorship Excellence Award, now given annually, provides a $500 honorarium and plaque for the honoree selected.
Through Wang's insights on the nature of students taking CIS courses at UTPA, Nwankpa said he tailored his teaching style and modified his course syllabi to reflect his student's needs.
"Her mentoring in teaching related activities contributed to my cumulative average course evaluation of 89 percent on all the four courses I taught in the fall 2013 semester," he said.
In service, he said, Wang explained critical University and college policies in detail and walked him through the student advisement process. In the area of research, he said, her advice on why good manuscripts get rejected by top journals proved extra rewarding to him.
"I have no doubt that her mentoring contributed immensely to my publishing two papers in top journals within the CIS department target list, one book chapter and one conference paper in an international conference proceeding since joining this great institution," Nwankpa said.
Wang, a faculty member since 2004 in the College of Business Administration, has an impressive record of teaching, scholarship and research since joining the University. She has published an extensive list of refereed journal articles and as well as several book chapters. She has also presented at numerous conferences nationwide and In Canada. This past year she has served on two UTRGV Working Group Committees - one on business and the other on the core curriculum. Her devotion to research and student success won Wang the Student Research Mentor award in 2011.
Wang said the New Faculty Support Program not only helps new faculty but also experienced faculty, like her.
"Through this process we get to learn what to do to be better and to be helpful to our students and our new faculty members," said Wang, who received inspiration from fellow faculty members Dr. Marie Mora and Dr. Sonia Hernandez, who presented at a mentoring workshop held last fall for new mentors. "Becoming a mentor helped me to improve myself so it was a very useful experience for me as well."
As a mentor to Nwankpa, she felt it was important to talk to him frequently, listen to his concerns, and see her in action.
"I wanted him to see and know my everyday work in research, teaching and service hoping that would also be beneficial to a new faculty member," Wang said.
See a video and learn more about the New Faculty Support Program at the Office of Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs website.