University launches “Dear Alma” podcast series for faculty 

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Screenshot Courtesy of The Office of the Provost

The background screen for episode one of the new “Dear Alma” podcast is pictured above.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Staff Writer

The Office of the Provost has launched a podcast series in which senior faculty discuss insights and tips on topics aimed at helping junior faculty. 

Titled “Dear Alma,” the podcast features advice from various faculty and explores topics such as time management, prioritizing self-care and a work-life balance. 

The podcast was created by the Office of the Provost in collaboration with the ATLAS Internship Program.

Rosa Santos, associate provost for faculty development, had the idea of creating a podcast after thinking about different tactics to reach busy faculty. 

In choosing the topics for each season, Santos wanted to make sure that it would be topics the faculty would be interested in learning about and hearing from colleagues on. 

“So, usually this happens when you’re talking with a colleague over coffee or things like that, like you try to get their advice or try to hear more of what they think about a specific topic,” Santos said. 

The first season of Dear Alma features 11 different faculty members. 

“The idea was really to try to get a broad spectrum of people with different perspectives on the same topic…our belief is that there’s really not one guru who can give you all the advice you can get,” Santos said. 

Laura Shackelford, associate professor in LAS and guest speaker on the podcast, participated through a Zoom “round-robin” style discussion in November. 

“It was the opportunity to kind of give a little bit of advice or provide a little bit of my experiences in the hopes that it would help somebody who was just getting started on their academic career,” Shackelford said. 

In an episode titled “Finding Untouchable Time,” Shackelford discusses the pros and cons of a remote-working environment with her colleagues. 

Kalyn Nowlan, senior in LAS, joined the project in Spring 2020 before the University transitioned to remote-learning. Nowlan handled writing up transcripts of the podcasts and creating the titles for each episode. 

Keesan Patel, sophomore in LAS, joined the project in the Summer of 2020. Patel primarily handled post-recording editing of the audios and making the thumbnails. 

The full interviews last around an hour, with Nowlan and Patel splitting up the audio recordings afterward to make shorter episodes. 

“The thing with Zoom is that you can really hear (the faculty) breathe in the background noise, so drowning that background noise was really tedious,” Patel said, adding that it got easier over time. 

According to Santos, the podcast website has seen around 100 clicks as of Feb. 12.

Season two’s release date will be on Feb. 22, and seasons three and four will be released toward the end of March. 

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