Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Program

I'm grateful for Murph: veteran, FA mentor, colleague, friend
On my behalf and on behalf of the New Member Program coordinators, I'd like to extend good wishes to all of our new faculty members, and acknowledge how grateful I am for the faculty who donate their time and effort to mentoring. 

Additionally, I'm grateful for the FA and its officers, and particularly for their support of our membership's professional development. Programs like the New Member Discussion Series and The Write Time are important to me personally, naturally; but one of the primary reasons they're so important is that through them I witness community building and information sharing. These two elements are vital not only to our faculty's individual successes but to our college's sustained reputation as a workplace where faculty thrive.

I hope you all have a peaceful, restful Thanksgiving break with your loved ones.


p.s. Did you forget to RSVP to the Holiday Party? It's at Villa Lombardi's in Holbrook at 6 p.m. on December 4, and it's not too late to secure your tickets! Send an email to Anita (anita [at] by Friday, November 27, letting her know if you would like to attend. Your ticket this year is complimentary thanks to the FA. I look forward to seeing most of you there!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NMDS Archive: Anticipating and Planning Your Career at SCCC, Part II

Editor's Note: At the end of this week, we'll hold the second event in our New Member Discussion Series program, titled "With Pride and (Surprise!) Joy: My Most Meaningful Projects and Endeavors at SCCC." (Eaton's Neck Room, Babylon Student Center, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.) I hope to see many of you at this event, which aims not only to inform you about the possibilities for your career at SCCC, but to inspire you to think broadly and outside the parameters of your job title and regular role at the college. 

Last year in November, we held an event titled, "The Long View: Anticipating and Planning Your Career at SCCC." One of these presentations was archived on The Undercurrent last spring (you can read it here); the following is a summary of FA EC Representative Teri Morales' presentation on the same topic. 

While it's not always possible to archive everyone's presentation (for instance, PowerPoint presentations don't really translate well to the blog format), we aim to keep a record here that you can return to when you're less busy but in need of some solid career advice.

See you on Friday! 

-- SKG

Important things I learned during my early years at Suffolk…

by Teri Morales,  Counselor and Adjunct Faculty, Ammerman Campus

Presenters Sarah Kain Gutowski (left), Teri Morales, (center) and Bill Burns (right)


It was important for me to have a mentor in my field while at Suffolk. My mentor was Giselle Torres, and she helped me grow both professionally and personally. As a single mom and a novice at Suffolk, I greatly appreciated her help in balancing both roles. I recommend searching out someone in your field and becoming collegial friends. This will prove to be beneficial in understanding the culture at the college and advancing in your profession.

Professional Development

It can be hard juggling work with professional development, but it is important and vital to your career at Suffolk. Don’t fret; every semester there are opportunities and you must remember to volunteer for them. You may get a lot of e-mails and feel overwhelmed by them,  so just try attending a meeting, or volunteer your time assisting in committee tasks. It may not be so overwhelming if you gradually take on small tasks. It all helps to make you more confident and be a part of the Suffolk community.


It may be hard at first, but getting to know faculty in other departments helped me to become more acclimated and feel a part of the community. As a Counselor, I tried to get to know faculty in all areas at the Grant campus. I attended all the events I could during my first year. I wanted to get a feel for the Grant culture. I am glad I did. I made good friends with colleagues who helped me to “deal” with stressful times. It helped me to be a better communicator, and I collaborated on many more projects that were interesting and beneficial to the student population.


Never, never, never stop being passionate about your work or your role here at Suffolk. I learned to surround myself with positive people and “feed” off of their passion and enthusiasm. I know that I loved coming to work because I had passionate endeavors that impacted the personal and academic life of students at Suffolk. Keep the faith! You do make a difference!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On Service (With Purpose)

By Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Program

I hope that this post finds all of us well: avoiding those change-of-season-plagues-disguised-as-innocuous-colds, surviving the cramped schedule and MYSCCC/Banner problems that come with Priority Registration, and withstanding the sudden rush of student concerns about grades (midterms will do that to them).

(By the by, if you need to access Blackboard without going through MYSCCC, visit And yes, sadly, a student just brought that to my attention earlier this week.)

November's finally here, y'all.
ANYWAY, one of the things you may have found by this point in the semester is that there's a lot of activity going on at the college regarding assessment, ILOs, and Middle States. Workshops are being hosted via the Office for Faculty and Professional Advancement, deans are making house calls to departments and governance bodies, committees are being formed, subcommittees are being formed, and calls for faculty to chair these committees and subcommittees are becoming more and more regular.

If you've found your role to play in one or more of these processes, congratulations! (And wow -- that was fast, huh?) And if you haven't yet, you might take a welcome break from teaching and grading to consider whether or not now would be a good time to become more involved.

General advice to our first year faculty is always along the lines of, "Focus on your teaching; worry about committee work next year." And this is good advice -- but not always practical, particularly if you're a member of a small department or a small campus (*cough*) that requires representation on a committee. Additionally, you may find that joining one of these committees now will give you a better, broader sense of how the college works, and how faculty and administration work together to accomplish the Herculean tasks beset us by SUNY and/or Middle States (the association from which we receive accreditation) -- and that you'll be able to participate in some new initiatives from the ground up, instead of coming in later when processes are in full swing.

Nevertheless, there are questions you should ask and points to reflect on if you're considering committee work:
  1. What's the purpose of the committee? 
  2. Do I have expertise or knowledge that will make me a good fit for the committee? 
  3. What will be my role on the committee? (What will be expected of me?)
  4. What's the makeup of the committee? (Who are its members, and who is chairing?) 
  5. Who does this committee report to? (Which administrator or part of the college infrastructure?)
  6. What kind of meeting schedule am I committing to? (Weekly, biweekly, monthly?)
  7. Do I have to travel to another campus to attend these meetings? (Can I make this fit with my current schedule?)
  8. What kind of workload will this committee carry? (Will it involve research? Will it involve writing? How much will be added to my current workload?)
  9. Is this considered department, campus, or college-wide service? (Do I understand where this will "fit" on my form for promotion?)
Also, I recommend asking for week or so -- if you have that opportunity -- to think seriously about the commitment you're being asked to undertake. Use that time to talk to fellow faculty, and your mentor, about the committee. They may have insight or perspective that will surprise you, and make it easier for you to say yes or no.

Service to one's department, campus, and college is incredibly important -- aside from being the basis for promotion, it's how a lot of the necessary work at our institution is accomplished. And there's a lot of work -- a lot of different opportunities to become involved -- so it makes sense that you should be deliberate and careful in your choice of committees and projects. No one should (or would, I suspect) fault you for wanting to be more informed when making decisions. Be clear that you're willing to serve, but that you want to serve with purpose.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Practical Matters: Priority Registration

by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Program

There’s usually some form of “priority registration” at any college or university, so you may have had an idea of what your new colleagues were talking about when they brought up SCCC’s Priority Registration at your department meetings this semester. Just in case you’re still a little fuzzy, though, about what Priority Registration at SCCC encompasses – and what your role in Priority Registration is supposed to be– allow me this attempt to clarify.

Sure, it's darker earlier, but these autumn sunsets are gorgeous.
In recent years, particularly after the award of a Title III grant, the administration has spent a good deal of time attempting to clarify the role of advising faculty when it comes to registration. Teaching faculty are required (again, like most important tasks, contractually) to set aside eight hours per semester, in addition to their regular class time and office hours, for advising students. This doesn't mean you have to cram all eight hours into the next two weeks -- although the administration does encourage you to spend more time in November answering student questions about their schedules, helping them decipher their SAIN reports, and guiding them to take classes that will fulfill their program requirements AND requirements for graduation.

Great, you must be saying in response . . . so who am I advising?

Good question! Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there is no formal assignment of students to faculty advisors for the majority of our students. (I know, I don’t think it’s the best beginning to advisement, either, but that’s a conversation for another time and another forum.) Some of our programs formally assign advisors, but most do not, and General Studies students are definitely left to fend for themselves. So, in order to make the most of your advisement hours, and in order to actually meet with and help students who would like to be advised, you have a few options.

The first option you have is to canvass the students in your classes. If you haven’t done so already, schedule some of your advising hours over the next two weeks (since Priority Registration officially began yesterday, November 2, and continues until Open Registration begins on November 11). Then make this into some sort of chart using Excel or the table function in Microsoft Word, or simply use the form you find here,,
the official, college-wide Faculty Advisement Resource for SCCC. (The link to the PDF form is the first link at the top of the page). Announce your availability to your classes, post the hours on your door, and if you're particularly ambitious, post them to your Blackboard course space.

Another option, which you may have discovered already, is to participate in your department’s efforts to hold department-specific advising sessions. Also, you can volunteer to spend some of your hours advising in the Academic Advising and Mentoring Center. (For example, I'm spending two hours in the Eastern campus center this Friday. Sometimes a change of scenery is nice.)

Keep in mind, too, that any hours you spent counseling or advising students before November (or after!) does count toward your advising commitment. We're not often required to turn in an official record of our time spent advising, but just in case the administration does ask for such a record, it's a good idea to keep notes about when and where and whom you advised.

Also, particularly because you’re new to the college or the full-time teaching faculty gig, you should read (or at the very last, scan) the Faculty Advising Handbook that’s available electronically at the link above. There are also videos available on this site that demonstrate useful information like “How to Read a Student’s SAIN report” and “Using Banner for Advising Purposes.”

So that’s my heads-up . . . and be prepared to receive a maelstrom of emails concerning Priority Registration at this time of year. As overwhelming as they may seem, you should pay attention to them, as they’ll help you fulfill your advising duties as a faculty member.