We seek to attract and retain outstanding, high-potential faculty, students and staff and cultivate excellence.
1. Provide thoughtful professional and personal development for faculty and staff
Faculty Training and Workshops
- The college has begun implementing a series of trainings and workshops in support of faculty members’ success. These include: New Faculty Orientation, Let’s Get Started, Mentoring for Success in Teaching, a variety of resources from a dedicated group of instructional consultants in the Office of STEM Education Excellence and the New Faculty Network for Professional-Track Faculty.
Emerging Leaders Program
- This program brings together regularly mid-career faculty members in Natural Sciences to connect with the dean’s office leadership and develop themselves as leaders. Participants explore timely university topics, build community across departments among excellent faculty at similar career stages and foster stronger, recurring connections between faculty and college/university leadership.
Initiative Investing in Professional-Track Faculty
- CNS is working to improve the clarity and transparency of professional-track faculty roles and affiliated pathways to promotion. This includes better defining and aligning workload expectations in our recruitment processes, systematic reviews and promotion processes so that faculty are supported in purposeful teaching, service, research and mentorship. In alignment with department and college priorities, we aim to do all of this while also creating new methods of recognition and support for professional faculty, such as awards, summer support and professional development leaves.*
Staff Training and Leadership Development
This effort aims to foster collaboration and sharing of best practices, while building a stronger sense of support among college staff through communities of practice; to equip personnel with professional development opportunities that enable them to be more effective in their current roles and better prepared for future growth opportunities; and to work collaboratively with staff to build intentional organizational culture aligned with our college values.*
Building Pathways to Awards and Recognition
- To celebrate excellence at all levels, the college is proactively identifying, supporting and nominating people here for prestigious awards and recognition so that CNS remains a place of continuous personal, professional and career growth.
Key Updates and Priorities for 2023-2024
Staff training and leadership development: The college’s new senior training coordinator has built programs to better prepare staff for future growth opportunities, as well as be more effective in their current roles. More than 30 professional development courses and workshops served more than 70 CNS employees in topics such as communication skills, productivity, leadership, teamwork and self-development. Additionally, 60 new staff benefited from a monthly orientation offering. An inaugural cohort of managers from all organizational levels across the college participated in the semester-long CNS LEAD program aimed at developing supervisors’ understanding and practice of fundamental management principles in the context of today’s challenging environment.
Emerging Leaders: A second cohort, comprised of faculty from every department in the college, formed and met throughout the 2022-23 year with college and campus leaders and one another to discuss issues ranging from the University to free speech to implications of AI. This cohort will continue to meet in 2023-24 as part of the planned two-year cohort experience.
Faculty onboarding expanded: A new process for onboarding faculty in the college is in development. In addition to a revamped orientation, the college faculty affairs office is supporting a multi-session onboarding program throughout the first year, with offerings for professional-track and for tenure-track faculty to have what they need for a strong start in research, teaching and service.
We aim to foster a community that brings people from many backgrounds together, valuing the respectful exchange of different ideas and perspectives.
2. Ensure a Texas Science culture of equity and belonging
Early Career Faculty Fellows and Recruitment Competition
We are partnering with the provost’s office to further our university’s critical goals of diversity, equity and inclusiveness as we work to attract and hire candidates with outstanding scholarly records and knowledge and experience in the issues and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion. Because the college views inclusiveness as integral to our excellence, we are designating CNS hiring resources also for faculty scholars with expertise and demonstrated commitment in diversity, equity and inclusion.
World Changers Display and Narrative Project
- In our buildings and spaces throughout the college, we are amplifying the stories of STEM trailblazers.
Each long semester, we are coming together as a college community to have difficult and important conversations about the inequitable histories of STEM disciplines and the overlapping areas of identity, lived experience and science.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fellowships
CNS will be offering prestigious, compensated opportunities for students and faculty to work closely with college leadership on initiatives aimed at making CNS a more inclusive and equitable place of learning and discovery.*
- The CNS Office of Development is actively seeking greater philanthropic support for graduate student scholars and undergraduates so that talented students of limited financial means can attend the College of Natural Sciences and meet their potential here.*
Key Updates and Priorities for 2023-2024
Donor support for students: Students of limited financial means have benefited from record fundraising over the last year. Hundreds of undergraduates additionally benefited from philanthropic support that allowed them to engage in research, internships or study experiences abroad, including through the summer.
Faculty fellowships: Faculty fellowships diversify the perspectives and voices in the dean’s office while providing opportunities for faculty to gain new experiences with leadership and receive compensation for contributions that help to advance key college priorites. Early Career Faculty Fellows and recruitment efforts have led to the selection and mentorship of promising newly minted Ph.D.s for potential positions within four departments. Meanwhile, a new college faculty fellows program has faculty working on problems that need extra attention, specifically initiatives related to education technology and micro credentials for undergraduates (badging). Fellows are helping the college assess needs for specific teaching tools with the technology in CNS classrooms and develop the governance for the college to create micro credentials, including related to biotechnology.
New Equations author series: Hosting interesting and engaging authors continues to be a strategy we use in the college to develop as a listening and learning community. This year as part of our Texas Science Festival, we hosted the 2022 MacArthur Fellow, botanist and author Robin Wall Kimmerer whose wisdom rests with both scientific and indigenous knowledge. In the fall Ruha Benjamin, whose work and books focus on race, technology, and data science, will be a featured speaker.