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The Department of Basket Weaving at Western North State University has just hired a new Assistant Professor (they start next month). The startup package is modest, but will cover the costs of setting up their lab.

The department wants to help the new hire settle in, develop an effective and well-funded research program, build their teaching profile, and generally become a useful and happy member of faculty. What can the Department Chair do (or encourage others in the wider department/university to do) to give this person the best possible start? The department cannot afford to spend more than ~$10k on this.

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There are a couple of overt things that can be done. Perhaps the best is to give both a light teaching load for the first year and a choice of courses. Second is to try to prioritize any postdoc hires to be research-adjacent to the new prof. This aids in their developing both research and collaborative activity.

But, beyond that, working to integrate them personally into the general flow of the department through introducing them to other faculty and hosting discussions that would benefit all, but especially the new hire. In other words, make them part of the family. Even a social for faculty and spouses (or equivalent) can be a plus.

Of course, a recognition that the person lacks experience is also a plus and may require some action so that small problems don't grow. People need space to grow into a new and unfamiliar environment, but also guidance when necessary. The head can do this themself, but can also encourage other faculty to become mentors to the new one.

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  • good course assignment is essential: courses where the new hire can shine will create a positive impression and will increase student recruitment opportunities. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 13:39
  • I would also add "light committee work." Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 18:56

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