The end of this semester was bittersweet – my last at Longwood University in the Communication Studies Department.
Two years ago, I wrote about getting on the roller coaster – my anticipation of the wild ride that comes with teaching five courses a semester at a university, finishing a dissertation, and completing a grant-funded oral history project at the same time.
I was right about the ride, but didn’t anticipate how completely consuming it would be to prep and teach five courses, commute over an hour to do it, try to complete any research or creative work, and to maintain my family and personal life. This was one of those old wooden roller coasters that throws you around and whipsnaps your neck. The kind that sends you to the doctor.
To make it more interesting, my department colleagues created a tenure-track position that roughly matched what I was doing and told me to apply for it. I did. They hired a young white man from another part of the country, and then eliminated the lectureship I’d held for two years. This is a fairly typical story in academia – so I’m hurt, but not surprised.
The students responded with warmth and support when I told them. And they were stunned. I mean, why would a university let an effective, well-respected teacher go?
So, I’m disembarking the roller coaster. I’ll miss my Longwood students, but I get my life back. Someday I’ll thank them for making me leave the ride.