Where do I Begin? Finding Growth and Success for Early Career Faculty and Faculty in New Positions

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Early career faculty and staff have to figure out a lot, including how to effectively teach and juggle other professional responsibilities. This roundtable will provide helpful information for early career faculty and faculty in new positions whether you are in year one, year five, or beyond.


2021 recipient of the OLC Gomory-Mayadas Leadership Award in Higher Education for innovations, collaborations, and support across 22 years of service in Higher Education. Sherri received joined the Automatic Sync Technologies/Verbit team in the role of a Senior Customer Support Manager, with the goal of collaborating with colleagues across the Higher Education space to best support their work in Digital Access and Inclusion. She continues her 20+ year career as a faculty member with serving in the role of a faculty member for the Department of Psychology (College of Science) and also the Department of Education (College of Education and Human Services) at Coastal Carolina University. Prior to joining AST/Verbit, Sherri served for almost 6 years as the Senior Executive Director of the Office of Digital and Online Learning at Coastal Carolina University, leading the digital and online learning initiatives, including digital and open access, digital accessibility, and all instructional technology initiatives. During this time at CCU, Sherri was an Associated Faculty with the Psychology Department at CCU, and specializes in teaching senior-level classes in lifespan psychology, such as Child Development, Adolescent Development, and Gerontology; she is excited to continue her faculty role in a part-time basis now with AST/Verbit. Sherri has served in academia within the field of online learning for over 20 years in the role of instructional designer, LMS administrator, faculty, and over the last decade plus as a university-level administrator. In addition to her work with Coastal, Sherri also serves the MERLOT organization as the Editor of the Professional Coaching board, as well as an Associate Editor and peer reviewer for the Psychology MERLOT board. She has served with OLC for over a decade, including as a conference proposal reviewer; steering committee member in the roles of Track Chair; Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Co-Chair; Conference Program Chair; as well as overall Conference Chair. Her service to OLC has been transformative, and she strongly encourages all colleagues in HigherEd to participate and volunteer to connect with the OLC cohort of edtech/dig tech experts in Higher Education. Sherri continues actively participating in research today, as well as guest presenting. Her current research focuses on methods for improving student success in the academic environment, through the use of inclusive design and tools.

Additional Authors

Dr. Melissa Hortman has worked in community colleges, liberal arts, and professional institutions for over a decade. Throughout her career, she has led initiatives in good instructional design practices, enhancing online learning programs, ensuring digital accessibility, institution-wide faculty development, and innovative teaching techniques. Dr. Hortman has a passion for change management around disruptions as well as being innovative in her approach to designing and delivering online learning. Working with diverse student and faculty populations throughout her background, success is found in the connections that are formed, and her passion is to facilitate and enhance these connections with technology.

Extended Abstract

Taking a new position, whether it is your first in your new field, or transitioning to a new position in the same or at a different institution, requires faculty and staff to figure out a great deal quickly, including how to effectively teach and juggle other professional responsibilities. Navigating a new position presents unique challenges, and oftentimes wisdom gained 10, 15, and even 20 years in the field can be invaluable. Reflecting on the mutual benefits of peer-based experiences and mentoring, professional learning communities in the digital and face-to-face space, and other integral support factors for new and early career transitions, this session will provide helpful information for early career faculty whether you are in year one, year five, or beyond.  Panelists will discuss lessons learned as well as share out best practice resources that will help you to grow as an educator, as well as get up to speed quicker in your new role. Panelists will also discuss ideas on how to innovate in your individual area of performance, along with provide guidance on how to grow through mutual collaboration and sharing best practices with colleagues.