The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Getting to Know You: Jonsson School Debuts Faculty Orientation Event

Getting to Know You: Jonsson School Debuts Faculty Orientation Event

Dean Stephanie G. Adams

Dean Stephanie G. Adams said faculty members are the biggest investment of the Jonsson School.

Leaders in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science held an inaugural orientation for new members including both tenure-system and instructional faculty who joined the school in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Dean Stephanie G. Adams warmly greeted the audience of about 60 faculty, most of whom were working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and who were meeting in person for the first time.

“The single biggest investment we make is in faculty — we want to get off to a good start,” said Adams, also holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and professor of systems engineering. “This is our first time, so we’ll make adjustments next time. We’re all about continuous improvement.”

Presenters focused on a variety of topics including general Jonsson School history, school leadership, The University of Texas at Dallas’ tenure and promotion process, teaching resources, research and other essential administrative matters: assessment, accreditation and finance and Title IX compliance.

“This orientation is particularly about communicating school policies and procedures and expectations and talking about the school culture,” said Dr. Poras T. Balsara, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of electrical and computer engineering” in the Jonsson School. “We want to provide new faculty members an opportunity to meet and interact with other cohort members with whom they have things in common.”

Assistant Professor Jessica Ouyang

Assistant Professor Jessica Ouyang, center, joined the Jonsson School in 2019 and said she found the information on research and undergraduate and graduate education especially helpful.

Dr. Jessica Ouyang, an assistant professor of computer science at UT Dallas since 2019, had attended her University training in person with Dean Adams and felt the new event was also beneficial for her.

“I was one of the last cohorts to meet in person before we went remote,” Ouyang said. “I am glad to see everyone here.”

Following the event, Ouyang said, “The information and advice was tailored to the engineering school. Class sizes and styles, as well as grant and tenure expectations, for example, are different for us than for some of the other schools.

“The presentations on research, undergraduate education and graduate education I found especially helpful, and those were not at the University orientation. Overall, most of the information was complementary to the University orientation.”

Dr. Katherine Brown joined the faculty in August as an assistant professor of instruction in bioengineering. She said the orientation was informative and relevant.

“The thing that most impressed me was that the dean attended for almost all four hours of the event,” she said. “She occasionally jumped in with her perspective, or to underline a point made by the presenter. She and her team provided a very warm welcome and provided pointers and resources on teaching and research to help us hit the ground running.”

Other Jonsson School leaders who were present and or presented included Dr. John Hansen, associate dean for research; Allan Mathew, assistant dean for graduate student enhancement; Elaine Pearson, associate dean of administration and Dr. Mette Posamentier, assistant dean of assessment. Marco Mendoza, senior director of institutional equity, Title IX for UT Dallas, presented on Title IX.

Poras T. Balsara

Associate Dean Poras T. Balsara addresses faculty members who joined the Jonsson School since 2019.

In addition to communicating essential expectations and procedures, the event marked an opportunity to set the tone for interactions with students in the coming months.

During a presentation from Dr. Amy Walker, associate dean for undergraduate education, Dean Adams asked faculty a simple question: “Why are we here?”

“We are here to educate students,” Adams said. “Without students, we would not have jobs. We might work in a laboratory somewhere if we only want to do research, but most of us are here because we want to teach people.”

Walker echoed Adams’ call to focus on the school’s core mission to educate students while building an environment of openness and understanding toward students.

The inaugural faculty orientation was held within days of an orientation for graduate student teaching assistants.