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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “New faculty face problems on campus, too”

    He’s been at the UA just about a month, and Dr. David Armstrong hasn’t found the need to fire up his Vespa yet to get from one place to another.

    “”I’m also a geek enough, already,”” he said.

    The size of the campus was one of the first things Armstrong, a renowned podiatrist, noticed on arrival to his new position of professor of surgery in the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.

    But Armstrong was not alone. Over 70 other new faculty members entered the UA this semester, attending orientations and taking tours of the campus instructional facilities before the fall semester.

    “”I had to go through four background checks, fill out about 150 sheets of paper and attend about four or five different classes probably,”” Armstrong said. “”I put a couple hundred miles on my Vespa, so there was lots of orientation.””

    Although new faculty members go through slightly different processes of acclimatization than incoming freshman to the UA, both students and faculty that attend the university from out of state have more adjustments in common than just the weather.

    “”It’s tough coming from a small city … to a huge campus and being able to adjust,”” said Karli Bauermeister, a psychology freshman from southern California. “”But it’s getting easier as the weeks go by.””

    Brigitta Lee, a new assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, said she has had some difficulty navigating the UA upon leaving the University of Montana in Missoula, a university with only three large colleges.

    “”I’m still exploring; it’s a pretty big campus and I haven’t found my way around just yet,”” Lee said. “”But little by little, I think I will.””

    Many times when teachers and professors come into a new environment they face the same uncertainties as students, Armstrong said, such as “”where do I fit in? Where’s the stuff I need to know? How do I get things filled out?””

    But Tami Draves, an assistant professor of music education, said although faculty often have trouble finding their way around just as students do, things are a little different in terms of the way each adapts.

    “”I think you can draw parallels because we are new, just like freshmen, and we want to be a success,”” she said. “”But (members of faculty) know what their job entails and know what they don’t have a full grasp on and what its like to be in college.””

    The college atmosphere for students is undeniably different, Draves said, because, unlike faculty, students have not been schooled in the inner workings of the system and often don’t know where to go, or to whom to ask questions.

    Draves said she hasn’t been asked to do anything completely unfamiliar yet since coming to the UA, but for those that have to work in an environment very different than they previously did, things may be more complicated.

    Armstrong, also director of the new Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance said his transition from a bustling urban area has actually had the opposite effect on him.

    “”What’s interesting about working in Chicago at the med school is that there are a lot of different doctors doing different things, and Tucson is a smaller town, but because it’s smack dab in the middle of the universitythe opportunities are really greater here,”” Armstrong said. “”It’s kind of paradoxical, leaving this urban sprawl where you think there are so many opportunities, but in reality although it’s still urban, there is much less so in terms of discovery and innovation.””

    Cristina Aguirre, a retail and consumer sciences freshman, said although it seems difficult for some students to adjust to being at college for the first time, she can see the same applying to officials and faculty.

    “”One of my girlfriends has a teacher … it is her first year and I think she’s having trouble adapting,”” Aguirre said. “”But it’s probably just for them, if they came from a high school, or smaller schools, to this huge new school with a ton of students, then maybe it’s hard for them.””

    Although the university process can be daunting like anything else, Armstrong said, there is one unwritten law that will always show itself – whether it’s upon graduation or retirement – it’s up to the individual to make the most of it.

    “”My dad used to say, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,”” Armstrong said. “”It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a student or professor, you can usually tell when someone is dialing it in – what we call ‘retired on active duty’ – he or she will always be able to tell whether the other is going the extra mile.””

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