I’m lazy. I didn’t feel like driving forty minutes to work today. Luckily, the Board of Regents for Georgia keeps growing the University of North Georgia. We got five campuses spread across northeast Georgia.
I didn’t want to drive to Dahlonega. So I drove the ten minutes to the Gainesville campus.
Outside, the April weather was turning nasty. Heavy clouds walking across the sky and Zeus slinging lightning bold causing a ripple of thunder to bounce through the air.
At the Gainesville campus, I made time to sit in on two first-year composition courses. In my role as director of first-year comp, I want to be in the classroom and get a feel for what is going on, how instructors instruct, how students student.
I planned on observing two classes, writing up a report, and then hitting the road to the Oconee campus for more meetings, more talking, more learning.
Zeus got extra aggressive with this temper tantrum, so I decided to stay put.
Zeus has been making April the cruelest month for eons before Eliot penned that line.
Since I was staying put in Gainesville, I made it to the English department coffee chat. My colleague, Karen Dodson, interviewed another one of my colleagues, Lev Butts, about editing memoirs. Some in the department baked cookies; our student assistant brought coffee and tea.
And here is collegiality. It’s kinda like that abstract chemistry thing sports pundits like to opine about when talking about why one talented team tanks and another soars. Gotta be chemistry, right?
In higher ed, we got a chemistry department. Literally. We don’t talk about chemistry; we talk about collegiality.
That’s the grease that helps the department pistons churn, powering the engine, driving us forward.
It’s not a given. Some department don’t got it.
And I am thankful for a department that does.
I had a great conversation with Lev in his office about Eliot, tarot cards, and Audible.com.
I had a great talk with Shannon Gilstrap about the department’s website.
I got a great hug from Steve Pearson who gives the best hugs. It’s empirically proven.
When the Power That Be decided the weather was too gnarly for classes to continue, they pulled the plug. Classes cancelled at 1pm.
I hung around for a bit.
I talked with Matthew Boedy about public scholarship and Jesuits.
I talked with Chris Bell about Bob Dylan.
These moments of conversations, passing hallway chats, flow together and form a Department.
I’m drawn to a life as professor for many reasons: but one I keep coming back to is the joy I get being around bright, driven, committed people with a wide variety of interests.
Some of the moments that stick with me as I drive home are the serendipitous hallway conversations about orchids, Sun Ra, metal, Ozzy, World War I, Texas A&M football, nuns. All these conversations that radiate through the halls, that animate our faculty, that show pure curiosity for the sake of curiosity, learning for the love of learning.
As the building emptied, I found a chair and sat. Outside the rain was leaping toward the ground; Zeus was thundering above.
I looked around. The five-story building was empty.
I put my coat on, ready to step into the rain, and thinking that my colleague is probably right. Dylan’s Tempest is pretty dark.