Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Welcome to SCCC, the FA, and the New Member Program

Sky at Cupsogue, Westhampton Beach
by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program

Some of you may be very familiar with Suffolk County Community College already, having been an adjunct here in previous years, and some of you may be brand new to SCCC, as well as to Long Island and New York State. No matter where you've been before this moment, the FA would like to welcome you at the beginning of what may (will probably) be a long and dynamic career at our institution, and help make this transition to being a full-time member of our faculty as seamless and rewarding as possible.

Ten years ago I began my own career here, and the New Member Program, while in its infancy, provided a fantastic orientation to both the school and the way a union works -- for coming from the south where unions were not (still are not) as prevalent as in the north, I was largely unschooled as to how a union works (and works hard) for its members.

But this blog post isn't about how a union works, necessarily -- it's about how you're going to work, in particular, at the beginning of this academic year, supported by fellow faculty who remember what it was like to begin teaching and non-teaching duties at a new institution, and to attempt to build lasting professional relationships with new colleagues.

The first of these professional relationships will most likely be with your office mate, or with a small handful of people in your department. But the next relationship, which we hope and believe to be one of the most important you develop here at Suffolk, will be with your FA mentor -- another faculty member who will answer your questions, offer advice as needed, and be a friendly face among . . . well, more friendly faces . . . throughout this first academic year as new faculty at Suffolk.

In the next few weeks, I will be working closely with the FA New Member Program Coordinators on each of our three campuses to pair each new hire with a mentor.  For those of you who weren't able to attend the new hire orientation on Friday, the campus coordinators are as follows:

Pete DiGregorio, Grant Campus Coordinator: peterd [at] fascc [dot] org

Jonathon Brockman, Ammerman Campus Coordinator: brockmj [at] sunysuffolk [dot] edu

Nina Acquivita, Eastern Campus Coordinator: acquavn [at] sunysuffolk [dot] edu

This means that by mid-September (although hopefully well before then), you should have received an email from your respective campus coordinator revealing the name of your new mentor and putting you on the road to getting to know them, and the school, a little better.

Being mentored is an art, just as the act of mentoring is an art. As I'll detail more thoroughly in a future post, feeling fulfilled and enriched by your mentoring experience takes an open mind and a willingness to engage with those around you. Please don't be afraid to ask your mentor questions -- and if you have a question but don't have a mentor yet, please feel free to send me, or your NMP campus coordinator, an email. Let us help you when you need help -- we have the benefit of several semesters' experience (if not several years) and we're in these positions because we like to help our fellow faculty. And if we don't have the answer to your question, we often know the people who do -- and we'll be happy to do the emailing and door-knocking to get you that answer.

I would ask, too, that this year you keep your calendars open where the New Member Program is concerned, as we have a number of events developed and organized with you in mind. The first of these opportunities will be on Friday, September 25, 2015, in the Mildred Green Room of the Babylon Student Center. From 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and in cooperation with the Office of Faculty and Professional Advancement, the Faculty Association will hold the first of the academic year's four discussion panels for new members: "Hindsight: What You Can Learn From My First Year." Last year this topic was so well attended and so well received that we decided to run an encore, featuring the most recent "graduates" of the New Member Program, who will reflect on their first year experiences at SCCC and offer advice about how to successfully navigate the first 12 months at this institution.

Soon after that event we'll also be hosting a Bagel Brunch on each campus, which will be your chance to see the FA officers again, as well as your mentor and your campus coordinator. We'll feed you  . . . uh, bagels . . . and coffee and assorted sweet stuff and check in to see how you're doing after the first month. We'll also explain how a simple piece of stationery, the FA White Folder, will be your most trusted tool on your road to promotion at SCCC.

But I get ahead of myself. Really, this blog is intended to be a useful tool for you as well. Please peruse through prior posts, looking up topics that interest you from the tags on the right. And if it all seems too overwhelming at the moment, don't worry about it. I'm going to be posting to the New Member Blog on a near-weekly basis during the semester, and a lot of these issues and topics will be revisited. (Hopefully in a new and relevant -- and maybe even amusing -- way!)

For now, I'd like to extend you a hearty congratulations for having secured a full-time spot at this college. Almost all jobs in academia are highly competitive right now, so you must be nothing short of amazing to have secured your new position. And I'd like to wish you luck in your first few days here at SCCC . . . take things one day at a time, one class or task at a time, and remember that the FA is in your corner at all times, or just around the corner, or in your offi-- all right, all right, you get the idea. We're here if you need us. Don't hesitate to reach out.