Three Decades of Faculty Career Starts Here: New Faculty Orientation Camp
The New Faculty Orientation Camp was held at Xitou Experimental Forest from August 31 to September 1. The three-day event aimed at preparing new faculty members for entry into a teaching career at NTU featured keynote speeches on teaching and research by faculty leadership and outstanding teachers as well as social events for fellow faculty members to build up their networks.
The programs kicked off with a warm welcome from the Director of the Experimental Forest, Prof. Ming-Jer Tsai (蔡明哲), followed by keynote speeches from the university leadership. Former Interim President Ching-Ray Chang (張慶瑞) spoke of the three pillars of faculty—teaching, research, and service—and reminded the new faculty that while all three are important, there is no “one size fits all” formula. He suggested that new faculty members find the ratio that best suits themselves through attempts and advice from seniors. Chang also encouraged faculty members to uphold scholarly virtues, for those are the very backbones of an excellent university. Vice President for Academic Affairs Hung-Chi Kuo (郭鴻基), revealing himself as a 1979 alumnus, navigated new teachers through the university’s new course map that focuses on interdisciplinary expertise, cornerstone courses, foreign languages, and the university’s next focus—digital teaching. Vice President for International Affairs Luisa Shu-Ying Chang (張淑英) introduced the university’s international exchange resources such as scholar exchange programs and transnational research projects. In the Q&A session, new faculty members also raised questions regarding research budgets and international collaboration projects under the New Southbound Policy.
The programs following focused on teaching and research. Prof. Ling-Chieh Kung (孔令傑) from the Department of Information Management and Prof. Herve Capart from the Department of Civil Engineering shared their experiences in innovative teaching and flipped classroom. Prof. Kung introduced the “LV + OH” model that allows students to schedule their own learning progress through lecture videos (LV) and professors to use office hours (OH) for deeper interactions with students. Prof. Capart shared his experience in guiding students through hands-on projects. In one of the projects, civil engineering students from NTU collaborated with architecture students from Shih Chien University to build a bridge they designed into a real model.
The Teaching Forum on the second day continued with the momentum, with Prof. Kuei-Shu Tung (董桂書) from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Prof. Yun-Mei Kang (康韻梅) from the Department of Chinese Literature, and Prof. Chin-Lung Wang (王金龍) from the Department of Mathematics sharing their philosophies and experiences in counselling students, setting oneself as students’ role model, and enhancing curriculum coherence on a departmental level. Though with different approaches, all three speakers demonstrated their care for students and zeal for better teaching.
An equally important pillar for university professors is research. Each year, top-notch scholars from humanities, mathematics/science, and biology are invited to share their research stories and tips at the New Faculty Orientation Camp. This year, a session on applying for MOST research projects was added to the program. The speakers emphasized logicality and innovativeness of research proposals, and reminded that advice from senior faculty members could be very helpful. The speakers also shared their personal experiences on the path of research. “A day is long, but a decade is short,” said Prof. Chao-Ju Chen (陳昭如) from the Department of Law as she suggested new faculty members to set their goals as early as possible, for decades of academic career could fly past before one realizes it. Prof. Shih-Torng Ding (丁詩同) from the Department of Animal Science and Technology stressed the importance of identifying strong impact areas when pulled in many directions at once, and “aim high” in these areas.
Besides programs for excelling in teaching and research, a series of programs were arranged for the new faculty, including “Survival Tips” for adapting to NTU’s environment and “Advisors Forum” on the role of advisors in students’ lives, and a networking event for participants to meet fellow teachers in their faculties. Many of the new teachers were touched and inspired by the passion of the speakers, and were also happy to meet fellow teachers and researchers. After dinner on the second day, an ecological tour took the new faculty on a stroll to enjoy the fresh and breezy night at Xitou and to recharge for the busy semester ahead.
Towards the end of the three-day event, excited greetings and fervent exchanges could be seen everywhere. Asked of their reflections on the camp, one teacher said that he was impressed by Prof. Capart’s bridge project and that it was an exemplar of combining theory and practice; some were excited to find fellow researchers to support each other along the way; more than a dozen of teachers expressed their wish for having more time to chat and discuss with their peers, and playfully complained that three days were too short. One teacher reflected upon the entire event and said that all of the programs were informative and rewarding. Over the three days, new faculty members from all disciplines and of all ages were able to meet and share their experiences and passion with each other. Although the programs still could not cover every practical aspect of a teaching career at NTU, the passion and vision they spark and inspire would grow and thrive to navigate new faculty members through their teaching career ahead.