Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Welcome to tomorrow

A happy, healthy, and prosperous 2007 to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

Last week, I commented on growing weary of the chase for a faculty post. I've thought a good deal about the matter during the past couple weeks. (Couple weeks?, you say, you've been obsessed by the matter as long as I've known you. Conceded.)

My first year on the search, '04-'05, the year I finished my dissertation and became PhD, I was far less picky. Ironic, isn't it? I would have been content to take just about any post that afforded me the title of assistant professor somewhere, anywhere. I would have been eager to teach any service course, to cover every committee assignment, sit through all department meetings without a huff or complaint. But then... a season passed with only close calls.

Last year, many of you met me, as this blog came into being, granting me an outlet for my frustrations and hopes, my fears and opportunities. The season came and went. The only interview I had last year was for a one-term sabbatical replacement in Beautiful Nowhere. In the end, another close call (2 against 3, as I was told). And now.

The season has come to its ebb. It's not over, for sure. But the new year (reflecting a break between terms) seems to mark a separation between early and late postings. Most of the latter will be one-year interim fills, which other than local possibilities, I don't anticipate applying for (for pragmatic and logistical reasons). In any case, the majority of my applications are already out. Most of what remains is waiting. I wait to hear if the two which have requested supplemental materials will be inviting me for an interview. I wait to see if any of the other schools will contact me, either for supplemental materials, or to set up a telephone interview.

I am still quite excited about the post at Big West Private. There's a history there with that position, as I've been in touch with the center's director for a couple years now. The more I think about the position, the more I realize it is in many ways the type of position I've been hoping for. At the moment, just about everything else pales in comparison, which leads me to the sentiment at the end of "I grow weary of the chase" (linked above).

And it leads me perhaps closer to striking out on my own (in earnest this time, not in consolation while I continue to wait). I have been self-employed for just about all of my adult life (other than waiting tables, which is rather close to freelancing, in any case). In part it's due to my drive and spirit; in part, it's also due to my stubbornness and thirst for freedom (both of which are somewhat anathema to surviving in a university department). As a graduate student, the former qualities made up for the latter. So far, I haven't been afforded the chance to see if that continues to facultyhood.

What I have resolved is that now ends the time in which my self-identity is defined by my lack of a university title. From here on, I'm Articulate Dad, PhD: researcher, writer, entrepreneur, husband, father, brother, son. If yet a faculty post comes along, whether an offer from Big West Private, Western Flagship, or somewhere else, I will consider it, in consultation with my wife and family. But I resolve to be whole without it.

4 comments:

What Now? said...

So what would striking out on your own look like? Are you thinking of starting a company for income while you set up as an independent scholar? Or doing something professionally within your academic background?

apparently said...

"What I have resolved is that now ends the time in which my self-identity is defined by my lack of a university title."

Excellent resolution. I'd say the same, only I don't really mean it yet (only I'd add "my lack of or the presence of a university title").

May you strike gold.

ArticulateDad said...

Ah, my friend, What Now?, am I to have the answers? Gee, I'm much better at the questions. ;)

I can't say for sure at this point what "striking out on my own" will really entail. Only, I know that I ought well acknowledge the realities of my status, and "on my own" just about sums it up.

Around 1990, when I started a landscaping business to pay my way through my Bachelor's degree, all I needed to get started was to buy a used lawnmower and knock on a few doors.
It built from there, as I bought a new tool or piece of equipment with each new contract. I learned a lot by doing. By the fourth season I had about a half dozen (mostly part-time) employees, and business to turn away.

Then... I went to grad school for the first time. I don't think I'd be content to go back to gardening, or opening a restaurant (though they both tempt me). Different lives, different choices.

What I want to be is a scholar in my chosen field. Just how to do that without a university, I haven't quite figured out. But stick around. This phoenix shall rise.

Lilian said...

Happy New Year for you too, a few days late, of course :)

I've been thinking about the same thing lately. I don't know if I really want to be tied to an university. Maybe only if my husband works there too... so I also want to find out a way to remain a scholar while not being on the tenure track system. I've never been that invested in the idea of becoming a professor anyway... I don't see myself in that position, I don't know if I'd be successful, maybe not.