Saturday, September 3, 2011
September 3-4, 2011 [Tribute Post 22]: New Colleagues
There are lots of reasons why I like the start of a new semester, most of them connected to the sense of possibility that comes with those first days of class, with meeting a group of students for the first time and looking at the schedule as an entirely open shared future and entering all the names in the grade book and cracking the course books for the first time and etc. But the start of a fall semester also comes with a parallel but broader sense of new possibilities for a department and a university, for the communities to which we’re all returning and from which we’ve had those few months (mostly) away to forget the petty annoyances of May and remember their strengths and why we’re lucky to be a part of them.
There are many such strengths, but in my seven years at Fitchburg State I have found that one of the strongest is the constant infusion of impressive new colleagues into our community. I certainly felt that way already about the group with whom I entered, a group that included my English colleague Ian Williams, about whom I blogged here. The following year saw the arrival of a new American historian, Christine Dee, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work at length on the creation of and first courses in a new AmericanStudies program at FSU. A couple years later we were able to bring three great new folks into the English department: Frank Mabee, Carl Martin (now of Norwich University in Vermont, but not before he brought a ton to the department and FSU during his two years with us), and Joe Moser. Last year we added another wonderful English colleague, Kisha Tracy, and another American historian and AmerianStudies buddy, Kate Jewell. And this past week I had the chance to meet, and once again be instantly impressed by and excited to work with, our three newest English colleagues: Anna Consalvo, Layne Craig, and Steve Edwards.
It’s difficult for me, when I think about the incredible diversity and yet thoroughly consistent quality of this group of recent additions—to say nothing of the even more substantial diversity and yet still superlative quality of the community to which they, and six years ago I, came—not to get frustrated at both the many ways (including but not limited to financial) in which our society doesn’t support public higher education as well as it should and the concurrent many narratives about the weaknesses or poor traits of academics. But of course I can think of one group of people who absolutely know better, who know full well just how impressive the community of FSU faculty is: the students who are fortunate enough to work with all of these folks. And this isn’t a time of year for frustrations, it’s a time to imagine just how much great work that community can do in the coming semester and year, in and out of the classrooms .Thanks to those newest additions, the horizon got a bit further and higher still.
More next week,
PS. Plenty of links in the post itself this time. But what (or who) are you excited about right now?