October 23, 2023

Faculty Connect does just that — connects faculty to each other and leadership

Series of social gatherings designed to bring together and engage faculty with a common interest or experience in a relaxed and conversational setting

October 6 Faculty Connect

For faculty new to the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS), there is a lot to learn and experience during the first year. Establishing themselves as new members of a very large community, while acclimating to new surroundings, new colleagues and perhaps a new role, can be challenging. Connecting with fellow faculty and supportive leaders in smaller groups can be one way to help Michigan Medicine feel like home. 

“New to Michigan” was the first theme in a new series of Faculty Connect social gatherings designed to bring together and engage faculty with a common interest or experience in a relaxed and conversational setting. On Oct. 6, faculty that joined Michigan since July 2022 were invited to the first Faculty Connect gathering in the lobby of the Towsley Center for Continuing Medical Education. They mingled with fellow faculty and UMMS leadership, sharing their early experiences, and asked and answered questions.

Shasha Zhang, Ph.D., an assistant research scientist in the Department of Neurology, has been here since September 2022. “I appreciate the chance to get to know my colleagues, as it allows me to reach out for assistance in the future,” Zhang said. “The faculty members are incredibly approachable, and there is a strong appreciation for fundamental research among my peers. This gives me a great sense of confidence in the potential for future collaborations.”

Zhang enjoyed meeting UMMS leaders that included Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Debra F. Weinstein, M.D., Executive Vice Dean for Research Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D., Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion David J. Brown, M.D., and the chairs of Orthopaedic Surgery and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (interim), respectively, Michelle S. Caird, M.D., and Shahzad I. Mian, M.D.

Neena Marupudi, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon and clinical associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, has been a member of the faculty for just over six months. “It was so nice to meet other new members to Michigan Medicine and share our experiences — learning where others came from and hearing about their journey and how they came to end up at Michigan Medicine.” she said. “There are so many incredible mentorship opportunities and ways to grow at this institution as a clinician, scientist, and as a human.”

One leader had a dual role in the festivities. Lou Edje, M.D., MHPE, FAAFP, is the new senior associate dean of education and, although she has been heavily involved in the school as a U-M Medical School and Master of Health Professions Education alumna over the years, she is officially new to the faculty as of Oct. 2. She enjoyed meeting people who had been here just over a year, as well as those who just arrived.

“Get connected to your network early,” Edje advises fellow new faculty. “There are people in your department, and others outside your department, in institutional leadership, who want to make sure your transition into your new role is as smooth and worry-free as possible.”

Attendees entered a drawing for a gift card to a local restaurant by answering one of two questions: “What was the biggest, positive surprise since coming to Ann Arbor?” or “What do you wish you knew before coming to Ann Arbor?” Among their answers: “People are wonderfully friendly and are not as competitive as expected,” “People smile here!” and “(Ann Arbor has) the comradery and community feel of a small town with access to all the events and activities of a big town.”

The next Faculty Connect gathering is November 10 and will include faculty focused on medical education. Future gatherings and themes will be announced in the coming months.