Several years ago, a group of new faculty from across UT decided to intentionally stay in touch after new faculty orientation. I somehow managed to join them even though I’d been there two years already. The group still gets together infrequently. Tonight was a ‘newer faculty happy hour’ at a popular watering hole near campus.
It was good to see some of the old crowd and meet some of the new. I seem to be the only Christian in the group, so I don’t always feel like I fit in. However, I was talking with a Chinese faculty member there from the Accounting department. She has been at UT for two years, and this group are her only friends in Austin outside her department. But she doesn’t come often because she doesn’t drink.
We chatted and she asked how I joined the group. I had been manning the Christian Faculty Network table at the resource fair at the Faculty Orientation the year the founders of this social group arrived on campus, met them during the orientation and joined them.
She asked if the CFN had any outreach or social events. She suddenly looked hungry and eager. She said she wasn’t religious at all but that she had a Catholic colleague who might enjoy our fellowship. She went on to opine that there weren’t just fun social events for faculty to build collegiality, things like meet and greets (not at bars/pubs), book clubs, hiking excursions, game nights, concerts with going out for coffee afterwards, and so on. No agenda, just human fellowship.
I told her our group was rebuilding and she agreed it is hard for faculty groups to get traction. I said we did try to do a few events like that; that we were about to plan for the fall and academic year, and I would include those kinds of events. She was delighted and asked to be put on our email list.
How many faculty are at your campus who are dying for human contact, for friendship? Colleagues who are so starved for it they will even come to your Christian group to get it? Will they ever find you?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)