Monday, August 27, 2007

"The Office" (Workstation series) 29 (release-the-hand-brake edition)

Starbuck's Coffeeshop, within the Student Union Building. Where I "hide out" (nominally) when being in my School of Music office makes for interruptions on non-essential errands.

Today was the first day of classes, and also the official first day of my "Faculty Development Leave." No obligation that I be on campus, but I have six faculty members starting on classes that they individually have not taught before (a lot of shuffling-the-dominos to cover my absence from the classroom) and I wanted to be 5:00 minutes, rather than 40:00 minutes, distant, in the event of problems. (And my guys all know to find me here if I'm not in the Music building). My sole formal obligation was to go play Mississippi Delta blues in the "History of Rock Class" which Dharmonia created and which the Dearly Deported is teaching while Dharmo covers my undergrad class. Pretty good gig, huh? Leave your sabbatical only long enough to go play the blues for 441 undergraduates, howling out Son House's "Death Letter Blues" and Tommy Johnson rockin' "Big Road Blues," come back to the coffeeshop to write recommendations and commendations for the great work people are doing, keep peckin' away at the minstrelsy project (just took delivery of Inside the Minstrel Mask, can't wait to delve into it) before heading off here on Sept 10.

My colleagues who pass me en route to caffeine tease me, assuming that I'm on campus rather than riding off into the sunset because I can't tear myself away. But, really, it's just that I'm taking the long view: my senior colleague is departing August 2008 to a well-deserved (and long-postponed) retirement, we've got a search to run for his replacement, and that search has to start happening now. Why would I ignore that, and the six new teaching assignments, given that I'm going to come back as Chair in four months? Let me get my guys squared away, with the tools, systems, and resources they need, now: it's easier to solve problems from 5:00 minutes, or even 40:00 minutes, away--rather than 2000 miles.

Was delighted to hear how well everybody's first day had gone. I knew they would do great--it's just nice when they realize that they will.

Also nice to have a first rehearsal scheduled (for this weekend) with this project.

Here's a (redacted) quote of the faculty-wide email I wrote in response to my colleague's formal retirement announcement:

"Dr H---- has provided an environment within our division that has made possible everything we have accomplished over the past seven years: complete revision and modernization of the undergraduate curriculum, the same for the graduate curriculum, the (current) finalized revision of Music Appreciation suite of courses, the expansion of the Tenure Track musicology faculty, the expansion of the Musicology graduate program's enrollment, development of a practicum by which senior graduate students move into teaching-assistantships and adjunct positions, placement of undergraduate and graduate musicology students in top-notch graduate programs and very competitive job situations, development of the undergraduate degree in Vernacular Music, the Vernacular Music Center and its attendant Scholarship, and even the very renaming of our department from "Music History and Literature" to the much more apposite and relevant "Musicology."

As I said to Dr H---- in a private email when he shared this news with me: "We could never have accomplished everything we have done in the last few years without your support, perspective, and advocacy."
Up here on the South Plains, we believe in saying "Thank you."


Lubbock's Landscape in the Sky.

Now playing: Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated

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