Professional development supports faculty

Professional development supports faculty

By Jennifer P. Sanchez

Professional development supports faculty

By Jennifer P. Sanchez

When Tatiana Perrino joined the Graduate School as associate dean in 2016, little did she know she would have to shift her focus to expanding faculty resources and support as the associate provost for faculty development. Perrino brought with her a great deal of experience as a researcher and faculty member in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Her knowledge and drive have supported the acceleration of programming with the Graduate School and University.

“Tatiana’s experience spans the roles of educator, researcher, and administrator, bringing a wealth of knowledge to her role as associate provost and to the Office of Faculty Affairs,” said Guillermo “Willy” Prado, vice provost for faculty affairs and dean of the Graduate School. “I am certain that our colleagues will benefit from her leadership and commitment to career development.”

In a question-and-answer session, Perrino shared about her vision and the future of faculty development at the University of Miami.

How did your role as associate dean prepare you for the associate provost for faculty development position?

As associate dean, I had the opportunity to establish partnerships with many schools, colleges and university units through robust programming for our graduate students. I worked to further develop partnerships that were in place, while also establishing new collaborations, often shedding light on valuable resources that students, faculty, and staff weren’t aware of. Through this, I discovered that it is fundamental that our community members remain connected and collaborate. Many times there are aspects of our academic work that can be isolating, but if we focus on enriching our connections and strengthening programming and resources, I know that we can enhance faculty success and the faculty experience at the University. 

What is faculty development at the University of Miami?

Depending on career objectives and trajectories, development opportunities can vary and require personalization and mentoring. For this reason, faculty development initiatives within departments and schools are so important, and we will work to support these. We are lucky to have leaders at the department and school levels who are enthusiastic about building upon our current resources. Their support has been essential in creating a vision to help our faculty thrive. Offering high-quality professional development opportunities which cut across schools and disciplines is also critical to individual and collective growth. Not only can it allow faculty members to gain skills and access resources for career advancement, but it can also connect them with others across our community. I believe faculty development also involves highlighting and sharing the impactful work being done by our diverse faculty members across the University. Recognizing this is important in and of itself, but it can also encourage collaborations among faculty members, which is so important.

What can faculty members expect during the academic year?

Faculty development initiatives will continue to be driven by the needs that have been expressed by faculty members. Our team was deliberate in conducting a faculty needs assessment through surveys and town halls to gather input. The feedback we received led us to focus on key areas: diversity, equity, and inclusion; career development and advancement; mentoring; and leadership development. This year, we started by connecting faculty members to existing professional enrichment resources in these areas through emails and our calendar of events. We are also continuing last year’s leadership sessions for new faculty leaders, as well our promotion and tenure information sessions. Faculty members will soon see new sessions and resources to strengthen academic productivity and to build mentoring networks. Because of our central position, we will be offering sessions to promote interdisciplinary collaborations, which can bring innovation to research and teaching, while also building our sense of community. Whenever possible, these sessions will be offered in partnership with our colleagues from different UM schools and units to encourage engagement and connection. 

Importantly, our office will continue to raise awareness of professional development resources for research and teaching that are available from our partners. These include the University of Miami Libraries, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, writing center, Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement team at Academic Technologies, and Talent and Organizational Development, among others. We will do this through communication, programs, and our expanding website.

What is your vision for success and how will you measure your impact?

It is to ensure that faculty members have what they need to succeed in their research, teaching, and service, and that they feel part of a supportive and interconnected community where they can thrive and contribute. In other words, our vision is to help advance a culture of inclusive excellence. We will assess the impact by tracking evaluations of programming and remaining attentive and responsive to faculty members’ feedback on their needs and recommendations for programs and resources. This will shape our work as we move forward. 

By working together, we can learn how to highlight our individual and collective strengths to push the needle and drive our mission forward.

How can faculty members begin to explore new development opportunities?

To start, I highly encourage faculty members to connect and learn more about available resources. While we continue to share opportunities through our events calendar, Office of Faculty Affairs website, and communicate regularly through email, it’s also important that faculty members know they can reach out to me directly at FacultyAffairs.cg@miami.edu. Our team looks forward to supporting each of our faculty members and we are interested in hearing from you.