Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Endicott
This week I finish an 18-month stint at a lovely college on the North Shore. I will fondly remember Endicott as a safe harbor from which I weathered a major career change from diplomat to academic. I learned here (at least a little) about the mysteries of good teaching. I tried on a variety of roles: Professor of American Diplomacy; Professor of U.S. Higher Education; Professor of Modern European Studies. I taught undergraduates and doctoral students. I struggled to understand how technology could/should be incorporated into the classroom, worried about how to grade students' work, and pondered what to do when students simply would not read the magnificent Tony Judt book, Postwar. (OK, it was 945 pages).
In between the teaching, I oversaw international programs in Mexico and Madrid and experienced the difficulties of bridging the chasm between undergraduate and graduate programs. I created slide shows and syllabi. I saw organizational management theories unfold before my eyes, and I was dismayed to see that academia struggled with many of the same bad habits that proliferate in government: too many meetings; too many long meetings, and even meetings about meetings.
I created the kind of office that lives in every professor's mind. I brought in bookcases from home and spent my first autumn lugging in small parcels of books each day. I hung my degrees, added some maps, and tried to inhabit the role.
Alas, Endicott lies 57 miles from my home on the South Shore. While I could mitigate the effects of traffic on the drive in by leaving before dawn, I was often caught in going home traffic that would extend my commute to three hours. Harold's illness was a deciding factor -- I need to work closer to home. Thus I will "transfer" to Northeastern University at the start of the year, and meanwhile I have a few precious days of being between jobs.   

I leave with some small disappointments. Perhaps unrealistically, I had envisioned a new life in which the campus was not only my place of work, but also my playground. I imagined us attending concerts, lectures, dinner parties, and building, over time, an academic life. Subconsciously, I was clearly looking for a home.

But sadly, at this scenic school which boasts three beaches -- I was never once able to get to any of them. Reason enough for moving on.

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