This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Orientation session helps new faculty get acclimated to UB

Published: August 25, 2005

Reporter Editor

When Satish K. Tripathi arrived in College Park, Md., 27 years ago to begin his academic career as a computer scientist, he literally was on his own as far as getting to know the university.

"There was no such orientation for me there; in fact, in those days there was no orientation," UB's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs told about 80 new faculty members attending an all-day orientation session on Tuesday. "So you had to figure out (for yourself) what's going on on the campus. It took me a long time at a large campus to figure out what to do."

UB's newest faculty members are much more fortunate. Tuesday's orientation, organized by the Office of Faculty Affairs, featured sessions on topics affecting nearly every aspect of a faculty member's professional life, including promotion and tenure, research, graduate and undergraduate education, student services, educational technology and human resources.

New faculty also had the opportunity to attend a special workshop on teaching, held yesterday by the Center for Teaching and Learning Resources.

UB has hired about 100 new faculty members in full-time, tenure-track and non-tenure track positions, said Lucinda Finley, professor of law and vice provost for faculty affairs who gave participants an overview of the services provided by her office. The new hires are spread broadly across the schools and disciplines, Finley added.

In welcoming remarks at the beginning of the session, Tripathi reported that UB has about 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs—"it's a very broad, large and rich institution"—with students who he described as "very bright, talented, creative and ambitious."

"You're coming to a family with a great tradition," he added.

Tripathi briefly explained the UB 2020 academic planning process. He noted that the process had identified.10 "strategic strengths," which he defined as those academic areas that the university considers to be among its best opportunities to achieve significant academic prominence and recognition. These strength areas have developed from established strengths and excellence at UB, he said, and have roots in the "distinctiveness of faculty research and creative efforts."

Tripathi pointed out that in almost all cases, strategic strength are multidisciplinary, and have the potential "to extend the boundaries of the entire institution." They have high social relevance and are connected to the emerging field of technology, he said.

"Quite importantly, these strategic strengths present innovative ways of defining our role as a 21st century research university."

He urged faculty members to go to the UB 2020 Web site at to learn more about the academic planning process and encouraged them "to stay informed" because the process "accurately represents the future of the university."

"We've been talking about UB 2020—actually you're UB 2020," Tripathi said. "Ten to 15 years from now, you will be the leaders in your field. Execution of UB 2020 is something you will be performing here."

On a more personal note, the provost also offered a critical piece of advice to faculty members.

"It's really important to have a mentor; not to tell you exactly what to do, but actually to guide you and help you make decisions," he said.

Recalling his early career at the University of Maryland, he said he was fortunate to be able to work with a senior faculty member who had a team of eight to 10 doctoral students.

"It gave me an entry to some bright graduate students, as well as some mentoring from the faculty member to tell me where to concentrate (my efforts), what to do, and not to worry about certain things because he was willing to take some work so I could really engage and get my career going."

New faculty members should talk to senior faculty members in their departments and look for colleagues who are successful in their work and are willing to share their recipe for success.

However, he warned faculty not to mimic someone else's career, but to "set your own goals and try to achieve those goals."

UB, founded as a medical college in 1842, today is the largest and most comprehensive institution in the SUNY system, Tripathi noted, adding that the university also has achieved national prominence as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

"Although we are proud of these designations, UB is not content to rest on its laurels," he said. "It is our intention to transform UB from a very good university to becoming a truly great university.

"To our new faculty, you are this future."