No longer can I ignore the emails from campus indicating that Fall semester will soon begin. Nor can I put off too much longer that manuscript review which is due September 3. Time to doff my invisibility cloak and return to campus rejuvenated, reinvigorated, enriched by extensive reading, and with a clear (closely guarded) plan of what I want to accomplish over the next five years. Invite me to coffee if you’d like to trade closely guarded secrets!

I did an unusually large amount of reading this summer—at least 20 novels including Stieg Larson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Richard Russo’s Straight Man and his Empire Falls, Rebecca Newberg Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, David Lodge’s Thinks; Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Lesley Kagen’s Whistling in the Dark, Benjamin Taylor’s The Book of Getting Even, and Brady Udall’s magnificent The Lonely Polygamist. Among the nonfiction books I found especially interesting, provocative, or intellectully stimulating were Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of A Radical Price, Nicoholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, and two books by social psychologist Ellen Langer, The Power of Mindful Learning and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility. More about each of these good reads can be found elsewhere. What else should I read?

The other day I decided to read cover-to-cover and, yes, word-by word the official 2010 – 2011 Carroll University catalog. How things have changed since I joined the Carroll community! I wonder if I have changed to the same degree (but please don’t send me photos of me from 1977).

Of the 120 individuals listed as Carroll faculty for 2010 – 2011 (included are administrators and librarians with “faculty status”) I am now seventh-most senior in years of continuous service. Three of those faculty listed who are more senior than I plan to make 2010 – 2011 their last year here (or so I have been told). Almost half the faculty and most administrators have only been at Carroll since 2006.

It might make an interesting exercise in my statistics class to use this data (faculty colleague, academic degrees earned, institutions from which degrees were earned, years of continuous service, academic rank) to better see who we are and how we have changed. Hmm, carpe diem (seize the the teaching moment)—I think I may have developed the content of my first Lab in PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” on September 1.

What are the responsibilities of a senior faculty, such as I, who is such an increasingly scarce commodity? I’ve seen far too many former colleagues across these 32 years at my stage of faculty development become bitter, angry, despondent, frustrated or exhausted, as they tried to do too much (serving on every committee and task force and accreditation visit) or resisted institutional change they found inappropriate. How can one protect the integrity of an institution one has grown to love, preserve traditions deserving of being kept, and be guided and anchored by the collective wisdom and core values of Carroll’s founders—and yet be open to new ideas and supportive of younger colleagues who need the opportunity to make mistakes and to have the same growth opportunities as did I?

In a week I’ll have an opportunity to have lunch with members of Carroll’s 25-year Club (faculty, staff, and emeriti) who have served Carroll for at least 25 years. I enjoy that annual celebration with these campus colleagues, faculty and non-faculty, who have been mentors, friends, teachers and role models to me. How many lives these dedicated individuals have affected—and continue to do so as they’ve shaped and lived core institutional values across the years and have produced a rich collective legacy of traditions, successes, failures, and reasons for celebration. How they have enriched my life and inspired me.

 


Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools.