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Engineering Impact Report

Giving Faculty the Tools to Succeed

So, you’ve defended your dissertation, navigated the drawn-out faculty hiring process, negotiated your startup package and likely relocated to a new city. Now the real work begins. Junior faculty members can be under a great deal of pressure in the early years of their careers. They need to develop compelling class syllabi, get their labs set up and begin the hunt for research funding — all with future promotions and tenure in mind. The School of Engineering has developed several resources to assist new faculty achieve their goals.

First-Year Faculty Meetings

Margie Pinnell, associate dean for faculty and staff development, meets on a monthly basis with all new faculty members. At the first meeting, the group brainstorms topics for future meetings that would be beneficial. Sessions include invited speakers, discussions, presentations and reading material. “The overall objective of these meetings is to develop a sense of community among new faculty and expose them to faculty from other departments, school administration and representatives from across campus,” Pinnell said. “We want to provide them with information and resources to help them feel confident as they launch their career at the University of Dayton.”

Federal Grant Seekers Program

The Federal Grant Seekers is a year-long, faculty cohort development program aimed at helping members investigate funding opportunities from federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health. Participants spend time developing a white paper, understanding proposal writing basics and preparing for meetings with program directors from key funding agencies. The participants, along with representatives from the Office of the Dean, travel as a group to Washington, D.C., to meet individually or in small groups with program directors and other government officials. This program, which runs every other year, is targeted for tenure track faculty members during their probationary period; however, it is open to all tenure track faculty and is intended to compliment the Early Career Fellows.

Early Career Fellows

The Early Career Fellows is a year-long, faculty cohort development program aimed at helping eligible tenure track faculty members write and submit early career proposals such as the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award. Faculty members learn about the various types of early career awards, get exposed to some of the nuances of early career proposals, work with a partner in the development of a proposal and receive feedback from the facilitators throughout the process. The fellows also have the opportunity to have their proposals reviewed by the Hanover Research Group.

Teaching-Focused Professional Development

The School of Engineering provides four teaching-focused professional development opportunities each year. These opportunities are managed by the Visioneering Center with some sessions offered in conjunction with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). The School has taken a leadership role across campus and opened these training opportunities to faculty from other units as well as other universities. Training formats range from one-hour sessions to two-day workshops. Examples of workshop topics include: best practices in design education, brain-friendly teaching, active learning and inductive teaching.

Junior faculty members can be under a great deal of pressure in the early years of their careers. They need to develop compelling class syllabi, get their labs set up and begin the hunt for research funding — all with future promotions and tenure in mind.

Other Research Support

Junior faculty can combine mini grants, fellowships and student research programs like the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) to build their research portfolios. For example, faculty who receive STEM Catalyst Grants or UD/UDRI Fellowships can apply to receive student research assistance through the SURE Program.

These programs can help researchers develop a proof of concept to better position themselves to compete for grants of national scope.

Development of a New Promotion and Tenure Document

The School is currently engaging in a significant promotion and tenure re-visioning process that includes rewriting the promotion and tenure procedures and policies. Among numerous other goals, these policies and procedures are being developed to be mission-centered, formative, evaluative and include tools to aid in career planning, self-assessment and reflection.

The new process will incorporate best practices in faculty evaluation, tenure and promotion, and strive to be more equitable in recognizing the service workload of women and underrepresented minorities in the School.

The School has already adopted an electronic portfolio based on the format requested by the provost’s office for the hard copy dossiers submitted during the promotion and tenure process. The electronic portfolios are shared with appropriate individuals during different stages of the review process. These electronic portfolios then become part of the faculty member’s permanent electronic file. Digital portfolios have several advantages including: convenience, confidentiality, cost-savings, ability to access and secure documents, and environmental friendliness.

Faculty Ambassadors

Faculty Ambassadors are a group of faculty who engage in various professional development opportunities to help them more effectively engage in student recruiting activities and to share this information with their department chair and other department members. The Faculty Ambassadors help facilitate various recruiting events, develop and evaluate hands-on activities that are offered to prospective students and summer camp participants, and ensure that research-based best practices for attracting females and underrepresented minorities to engineering are incorporated. The Faculty Ambassador program is managed by the Diversity in Engineering Center, with support from the associate dean for faculty and staff development.


School of Engineering

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254