5 Questions All New Faculty Should Ask

Nearly two months in and it’s finally starting to feel real – I’m a faculty member!

A few months ago, I ran a workshop on rubrics and participated in a colloquium hosted by Peopling the Past. At the colloquium, I reflected on this blog and the work that I’ve been able to do with it. I especially highlighted the hidden curriculum and BIPOC feature series.

My presentation received a generally favorable response. One person asked whether I would begin incorporating posts on the hidden curriculum aspects of being a new faculty member.

At the time, I couldn’t imagine what that would look like. I hadn’t yet started my new job, so I didn’t know yet what I didn’t know.

Although many of my questions have been answered, there are still things I figured out on my own.

This week’s post highlights some of the questions that I asked as I started my new faculty job.

Black woman standing in front of a wall, wearing a black and white blazer and black pants and holding a brown bag.
Me on my very first day of teaching as an assistant professor!

When/how often do you get paid? When should you expect to receive your first paycheck?

This was legitimately the first question I asked. I inquired about this once I realized that my grad school paychecks would soon come to an end.

Asking about money can often feel like a taboo topic. You may find yourself (as I did) in between jobs for a while. If you do, knowing when to expect your first paycheck will give you peace of mind.

Where can or should you park on campus?

I’ve never needed to commute to work using my own transportation before. Therefore, this caused me great anxiety in the weeks leading up to the first day of term.

I did a lot of research, but nothing beats simply asking people who have been around for a while. While you’re at it, ask them about the best and worst times to arrive.

How do you set up and use your LMS?

I got lucky here. I didn’t need to ask this question because the LMS we use (Canvas) is one that I already knew.

If your institution uses an LMS you don’t know well, ask if there are resources available to help you get started.

When should you get your office and/or building keys, faculty ID card, and/or parking decal?

I was not given a specific date or time to do this. There may not be a designated time when you should do this. I ended up getting most things like this after inquiring about them.  

What office supplies are provided by your department or institution?

This is an important thing to ask, especially before you start buying things for your office.

There are plenty of things that you do not need to purchase yourself. These include a stapler, staples, tape, dry erase markers, or chalk. It’s also worth asking about other, less common things you might want, like dry erase boards or index cards.

I asked to have sticky notes purchased and they magically appeared on my desk a week later.

These are just a few of the things that I’ve had questions about. I now know the answers to them, but if you don’t, I’d highly recommend asking sooner rather than later!

For all the new and seasoned faculty out there – what is something you wish you’d known when you started? Comment below!

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