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Austin Peay State University’s Eriksson College of Education offers new support to junior faculty

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – When the dean of the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Eriksson College of Education recently asked about a UFO on campus, Dr. Ling Wang, associate professor of education, asked the obvious question – what?

“I said, ‘What is that?, and he said, ‘Untenured Faculty Organization,’” Ling recalled. “Now, every time I just feel like I have to mention the full term, otherwise people will ask ‘what?’”

Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the college, tasked Wang with setting up the new organization to help retain the college’s talented junior faculty members. As with most universities, Austin Peay State University offers a Retention, Tenure and Promotion (RTP) process that guides new professors through their first six years, focusing on teaching, research and professional activities. In order for faculty to succeed, it’s important for them to connect with colleagues or find support systems on campus.

The new UFO program, which began meeting in August, will hopefully provide that support to the College of Education’s newly hired faculty. There are currently 15 junior faculty members working in that college, with more to be hired in the coming years.

“The purpose of it, we will create a social network, personal friendships and a sense of community among our members, and we will promote the practice of effective communication and respect for each other,” Wang said. “We will identify, plan and implement some UFO activities to help support teaching, advising, scholarship, service and professional development, through their tenure process.”

The UFO will support the tenure process through its monthly gatherings, with food provided by the college, and its five subcommittees – the teaching and advising committee, the research and scholarship committee, the service and professional development committee, the overall RTP committee and the social committee.

“In each subcommittee, they will explore existing programs and resources we can use and what new programs we can develop,” Wang said.

The UFO is only open to College of Education junior faculty, but Wang sees its mission as beneficial to the entire university. She’s not alone. In the coming months, members of the APSU Honors Program, the Department of Languages and Literature, the University’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, and current and former chairs of APSU’s RTP committee will attend meetings to support its mission and see how the organization works.

For information on APSU’s Eriksson College of Education, visit www.apsu.edu/education.

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