Now that VIDD is a full scientific division at the Hutchinson Center, there is a lot more we need to do “in house.” One of the division’s major tasks is to deal with faculty appointments and promotions. To handle this task, VIDD has created a new Faculty Affairs Office, headed by VIDD affiliate Dr. Rhoda Morrow. The office is not just appointments and promotions, Morrow said, although that is at its heart. She also aims to help faculty, especially junior and new faculty, navigate many aspects of their career. This includes an expansion of VIDD’s year-old Faculty Mentoring Program, which Morrow also initiated and will now be part of the Faculty Affairs Office.
“We’re a front door for faculty with issues that relate to their success in VIDD,” Morrow said. “We really want to make it simple for faculty to get their questions answered, to get the resources they need, and to feel very comfortable with the process of review and promotion once they’re appointed.”
Although every scientific division at the Center has an office or a person who handles promotions and other faculty affairs, VIDD’s Faculty Affairs Office is unique in that it is headed by a faculty member, Morrow said. Morrow is also a professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, and is in the process of becoming a joint member with an appointment in VIDD. She feels in some cases, a senior faculty member can have special insights into what other faculty are going through in their career struggles. On a personal level, Morrow is thrilled with this shift in her career path. After a rewarding career in research and diagnostic laboratory management, she was looking for a way to focus on mentoring junior faculty and scientists.
Along with appointments and promotions, and continuation of the Faculty Mentoring Program, which pairs junior VIDD faculty with more senior faculty mentors to help the mentees in any aspects of their career, the Faculty Affairs Office includes organization of faculty meetings, help in ”marketing” faculty members, and faculty skills development, including development of presentation, writing, and grantsmanship skills. If the office doesn’t cover it, Morrow hopes they will be able to at least point faculty in the direction of the right person or resource. “We really want it to be one-stop shopping for professional development of VIDD faculty,” she said.
Besides Morrow, the office includes Christina Wee, a full-time administrative assistant, and part-time contributions from VIDD project manager Shaila Austria. Rachel Tompa’s work on VIDD Vitals and related work on VIDD faculty website content will also be part of the office.
VIDD’s establishment of the Faculty Affairs Office speaks to the emphasis that the new division wants to place on faculty members, Morrow said, and especially on navigating the confusing but important promotion process. “It came out of a real desire to have faculty supported, and prevent them from being frustrated or not understanding the promotion rules or expectations.”