Last week, Day 1
My plan was to savor this last semester, but of course life got in the way, as it always does. First there was pneumonia, then catching up from pneumonia, then spring break, then catching up from spring break, then the Popular Culture Association conference, then catching up. Now it's the last week of classes, and I am determined to be attentive each day.
On Mondays I usually work at home, but today we had a faculty meeting, so I did some correspondence and editing in the morning, then hopped on the UM shuttle, arriving a bit after the meeting had started. Such is the bus commuter life. I also did a quick draft of today's story, which I will post anon.
My very first faculty meeting was January, 1975, at the University of Rhode Island. I was a lowly master's student, and graduate students usually did not attend faculty meetings. But because I had full responsibility for a course, instead of assisting with one, they decided I should come to the meetings. The initial experience was not unlike running into your teacher in the locker room at the local gym for the first time. All their authority was stripped away, as they called each other by their first names and chatted about their families and their weekends. I can't remember saying anything in the first meeting, or ever, in the three semesters I taught at URI. but I enjoyed the meetings, or at least can't remember disliking them.
The faculty meetings in the Textiles and Consumer Economics department at the University of Maryland, in contrast, were brutal. In the first place, they were on Friday afternoons, and they lasted two or three hours. The only good thing was that we repaired afterwards as a body to Happy Hour in the old tavern across the street. But our meetings were usually substantive and often contentious, so Happy Hour was necessary. I believe we met every other week, the day paychecks came out. So if you wanted your paycheck that day, you had to show up.
(I pause for a prayer of gratitude for direct deposit.)
Since 1993, I have been in the American Studies department, a kinder, gentler culture when it comes to meetings. They have been few and far between, nearly always genial, and the advent of wifi has made it possible to multitask during discussions. Today was my last faculty meeting, or as I like to think if it, my LAST. FACULTY. MEETING. EVER. I like my department, and I like my colleagues. They are a smart, friendly bunch. I look forward to future meetings, but meetings with no agendas except good conversation.
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