I dunno, maybe I'm just a big dork, but I really liked my new faculty orientation day. I got to see face to face (and sit at lunch with) some of the people who will be making major decisions about my life over the next five years. I got some right-on advice about what you really need to do about tenure in a research department. I learned about the university's official educational goals for its students, and got introduced to people who can offer advice on how to work within that framework. I got to hear a really inspiring talk-through of how the big R&E initiative on campus works, and how I can get in on it. I got to meet some other new faculty from VERY different departments than mine, making some friendly acquaintances and a contact for funneling some grad students who might be wanting to bring their very different, but needed, expertise and interests to my lab. I learned about the giant supercomputer resources available (including REAL PEOPLE to get interface and application development help from!).
I took part in a provocative discussion during a case study of what one should do when a student comes to you with allegations of inappropriate behavior by one of your colleagues. And was simultaneously shocked and not shocked about how many people:
1. seriously argued that they should not get involved because "the politics could be too complicated" and the potential for getting dragged in and damaged was too high (incidentally, the university policy is that THEY HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO GET INVOLVED at least as a confidential whistle-blower to the office that handles such things--so they better realize that IT IS THEIR JOB TO DO SOMETHING no matter how afraid they are of the politics in their department).
2. 's first response was to say, "well, how do we know this professor (who as described by the case study had a reputation for inappropriate conduct and had been investigated about it in the past) really did it and the student is not just making it up for sympathy?"
Altogether, I thought the whole day was really worthwhile. Unlike the guy at the table next to me who made no attempt to hide his efforts to fall asleep all during the morning talks, and didn't show up for the afternoon. If that's how extreme he feels about what his JOB is about, why does he want to do it? Most people at least quietly slipped out without causing a stir if they just couldn't take it anymore.