When Susan Freimark joined the School of Medicine last fall as Director of Faculty Development and Diversity, she brought her considerable professional development and coaching skills to help empower faculty at different levels of experience and guide them as they progress in their career. She is part of an expanded team that is improving diversity and equity in research, education, and implementation.
“One of the things I am most looking forward to is the opportunity to create professional and leadership development programs for faculty at all career stages,” Freimark said. “As a board certified coach, I’ve worked with SOM faculty over the years to support them in developing a long term career plan, figuring out how to resolve professional development challenges, or helping them to enhance their people and project management skills.”
Freimark has worked at the university for more than 24 years, most recently as the Senior Associate Director at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women. The Center serves as a community space on campus to empower women and advance gender equity through research-informed action.
“All faculty come into the school as a newcomer, whether they are fresh from graduate/medical school or joining from someplace else, and they often feel lost and somewhat isolated starting out,” she said. “My first priority is to help these new faculty members feel a part of the CWRU School of Medicine community.”
She surveyed faculty who have been in their roles for at least five years to determine what they wished they had known when they started. Freimark is applying the survey data to launch the Ambassadors for New Faculty program this semester, matching new faculty with someone with more experience. Not as in-depth or career-oriented as mentoring, it’s a buddy program that helps ease newbies’ frustrations and with knowing where and how to find what they need. The Ambassadors program will eventually expand to include the school’s faculty at affiliate hospitals to help them connect to on-campus faculty.
Susan will also work with Diana Bilimoria at the Weatherhead School of Management to establish a professional and leadership development program for department chairs. The year-round program will provide tools needed to face issues ranging from how to nurture junior faculty to dealing with the death of a colleague.