After signing the contract, the first steps are critical in setting faculty and staff on pathways for successful careers at UNL. The University strives to position all starting faculty and staff for success in advancement and tenure, from negotiations through promotion. This may include small things, like encouraging new hires to UNL to take the time to complete their associated orientation programs (run through the Executive Vice Chancellor’s office for faculty members and through Human Resources for staff members). Similar endeavors, like connecting new faculty with the UNL Center for Transformative Teaching and departmental resources can be quintessential to help new hires navigate the Nebraska learning environment, particularly for faculty that remain predominantly away from campus. If not addressed during the negotiation process, make those specifying a need for dual-career assistance aware of the UNL Dual Career Program. These deliberate steps will maximize retention and academic potential. For more information on dual-career assistance, visit the Creating Connections On and Off Campus website.
Work to help new faculty and staff find a sense of place at UNL and in the Lincoln community. Information on employee resource and affinity groups and organizations should be provided to all new faculty and staff (see https://involved.unl.edu/campus-community-connection for more information), regardless of their demographics. Research on family friendly policies and worker attitudes show that even if an employee does not identify with any of the listed policies, employee attitudes and outcomes are positively impacted by the presence of family-friendly policies14. Employees may experience positive attitudes and outcomes (belonging and satisfaction) just by knowing that such groups are available and recognized by the university. The following strategies help newly-hired faculty connect to community:
- Provide explicit invitations to departmental or interdepartmental social groups or recreational activities. (Note: consider accessibility.)
- Provide information on UNL affinity groups and commissions: University of Nebraska Office Professional Association (UNOPA); University Association for Administrative Development (UAAD); Faculty Women's Club, UNL African and African American Leadership Caucus, UNL Women's Coalition, UNL Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, American Association of University Women-Nebraska Chapter, and UNL Association for Women in Science for more information).
- Provide information on general faculty networking opportunities such as: UNL Multicultural Young Professionals Network, Faculty Connector, Faculty Club Night, Science Cafe in Lincoln, and the UNL Campus Community Connection. (See https://involved.unl.edu/campus-community-connection for more information.)
- Consult with new hires to determine how they would most prefer to be introduced to the department. Different personalities may not be comfortable being placed at the center of attention as the new hire. Options to consider include:
- Host a departmental social when new hires first arrive to start the position.
- A walk-about with your supervisor from desk to desk to allow for one-on-one introductions.
- Have explicit in-person introductions for new hires to existing faculty and staff.
- Develop a schedule to meet with colleagues, community and campus partners who are instrumental to the success of their ability to do their work.
- Prioritize field-staff visits to include important networking.
- Connect with the UNL Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), either in-person or through its website. The ODI works to provide vision, leadership, and advocacy in fostering an inclusive, equitable, and welcoming campus central to the land-grant mission of UNL. Similarly, ODI leads and facilitates the development of institutional policies, protocols, and practices intended to create a more equitable, and inclusive campus culture; and utilizes an inclusive excellence framework to foster an engaged, creative, and innovative learning environment for all. For more information, visit the following: https://diversity.unl.edu/.
- Belonging/welcoming assessment 30, 60, 90, 120, 180 days – 1 year and then twice a year.
14 Butts, M. M, Casper, W. J., & Yang, T. S. (2013). How Important Are Work–Family Support Policies? A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Their Effects on Employee Outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(1).