FIU STRIDE members attend STEP Workshop at University of Michigan

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Drs. Walter Van Hamme, Yesim Darici, Steven Charman and Suzanna Rose

In early May, four FIU faculty members from the NSF-ADVANCE STRIDE Committee (School for Integrated Science and Humanity Executive Director, Suzanna Rose, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Yesim Darici, Physics professor Walter Van Hamme, and Psychology assistant professor Stephen Charman) visited the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, for a STEP workshop organized by the University of Michigan’s NSF-ADVANCE team.

STEP stands for Strategies Toward Excellent Practices (in departments). The STEP workshop aims to bring about meaningful change in the way academic units operate at universities across the nation. Six teams (including faculty from FIU, the University of Tennessee, Purdue University and 3 teams from the University of Michigan) attended the workshop, each proposing a specific “change” project.

The FIU contingent proposed to pilot the “Launch” project this Fall, establishing launch committees for each new incoming faculty member in the sciences. Launch committees facilitate a quick and efficient integration of the new faculty member into the ways of the university. Through role-playing and acting out “devils-advocate” scenarios, the intense two-day workshop taught the FIU STRIDE members the importance of having a clear focus, choosing the right strategies and using applied techniques to sustain project momentum.

The FIU-NSF ADVANCE team will initiate the Launch Project in Fall 2013 as a component of the Faculty Mentor Program. Several new science faculty will be selected to participate. Launch Programs used elsewhere have been very successful in helping new faculty get off to a strong start and the intent is to also position new FIU faculty with a favorable “launch” to their careers.