Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Yesterday, or so it seems, was April 23, the last day of classes in our academic year. 

This morning, one or two eye-blinks later, I found myself signing a bunch of forms and dating them 8/11/10.  Holy smokes!  Mid-August already!  How did that happen?  When classes ended in April, the summer seemed to stretch out endlessly in front of me.  The possibilities seemed infinite and I looked forward to abundant time for serious thinking and planning.  And then suddenly, before I’ve done half of what I wanted to do, that endless stretch of time has diminished and can now be measured in days and counted on fingers. 

This is the point in time that I experience ambivalent feelings about the start of the new academic year.  I lament the end of the quieter summer when the campus belongs to the adults and but have not yet reached the point of being excited about the energy and life that the students bring.  That will come.  It always does. But right now, I am mourning the rapid passage of time.

Of course, there are some wonderful things about mid-August.  This year in particular, mid-August really is a celebration because our daughter will return home from a 9 week college program in Vermont.  I can hardly wait to see her—it has been a very long time and we have missed her tremendously.  But when she arrives home, I will know that hazy relaxed days of summer have passed.  No more lingering over breakfast on the deck.  “Casual days” become the exception and I will have to take my suits to the dry cleaners and make sure that I have plenty of pantyhose on hand!  The days get shorter, but the work days get longer.

Like most universities we have a number of traditions to help us through this transition and pump us up for the new academic year.  We have events to introduce our new faculty colleagues to the campus and the campus community.  We have meetings, formal and informal, to catch up with our friends who spent their summers elsewhere and we’ll start to talk about what is in store in the next term.  Old rivalries are temporarily put aside and there is an aura of goodwill as we look ahead to our shared future.  We have welcome back speeches and we recognize the promotions and tenure awarded in the past academic year.  All this culminates with the all-university picnic for employees and their families and it will be fun to see how all the children have grown and changed.  And while I’m busy elsewhere, my calendar will begin to fill up so much that I’ll need to carry my Droid everywhere so I don’t forget where I am supposed to be.  And then….

The students will arrive.

That is when I really remember why we are here.  The students will bring unlimited energy and abundant life and the academic year will stretch out endlessly before me and the possibilities will be infinite and…..

Today I am grateful for the rhythms of our lives, the patterns that renew and refresh us, and the optimism of new beginnings.

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