Update: Thanks to all for the good wishes and words of advice. I put the following in a comment below (among other things said there) but I thought it was worth posting here.
I think I’m going to go with Dr. Crazy’s advice. The situation lends itself well to more general, theoretical pieces about things like the value and use of the humanities in the “real world;” the importance of the liberal arts as including the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences under one umbrella; the utlity of consensus-building in running a large and public organization; the importance of faculty governance; the idea and value of having a “vocation” in the deepest sense of the word; the place of the study of the past in our supposedly rapidly changing, technology-infused world; and all sorts of other good stuff. And writing on such topics appeals to me. Such topics also have application to other universities, because what’s going on here isn’t completely unique in its general character, only in its specific *characters.* I can couch a lot of it in terms of general trends. Of course, writing on such topics also takes a lot out of me, so expect maybe one of these topics a week!
Also, last night I actually briefly toyed with the idea of getting out job applications to two universities that are in 3-4 hour driving distance from here and would each be a small step up from here in prestige (and whose deadlines were in November and would give me time to pull an application and letters together). Bullock and I talked about how we could buy our vacation home and land in between here and those places and spend weekends at it. (In this plan, Bullock would stay here for the time being.) But then we realized that would seriously disrupt our lives, that there weren’t all that many universities around those two where Bullock could then get a job comparable or better than the one he’s got, so we decided together to go back to the wait-and-see-and-maybe-go-on-the-market-next-year-if-things-get-worse plan. It didn’t seem worth it to let one administration’s bad ideas — which may not even be implemented — ruin our lives.
And if you saw the premiere of 30 Rock last night (I *heart* Tina Fey), I have to say I identified very deeply with that entire episode. Translate it into academia and you’ve got an idea of what’s going on here. If you didn’t see it, you missed something pretty funny (and, as our students would say, “relatable”). My new motto now, every time I feel like fleeing, is “Don’t buy all the hot dogs.”
Sorry for the unexplained silences lately, but Bullock and I traveled over the weekend, and you know how it is when you go away – everything else gets backed up. But the other reason I’ve been a little light on the content here is because I’ve been weighing the decision to blog about something that would really compromise my anonymity, and in doing so, could potentially jeopardize my chances of tenure at Rust Belt U (not on the department level, or even the college level, but at those levels over which faculty have less control) – but only if the parties concerned happen to find my blog. If I make sure what I write isn’t readily found by a Google search, then I doubt very much the parties concerned will find it, since I doubt they read blogs, but students might. And so it might come to other people’s attention. But those are big maybes and mights, so I think the chances are slim. More important, I really need to write publicly about the disturbing changes my university is undergoing – at the hands of a deeply misguided new administration – because these changes make me angry and frustrated and depressed. And if my university is headed in the direction that the administration wants it to go, then I’m not sure I want tenure here. I didn’t go on the job market this year because Bullock and I are incredibly lucky to already be in the same institution, and Bullock is up for tenure this year. I was thinking of possibly going up for tenure early next year (instead of the following year), and throwing my energies into what I could contribute here now and in the future, but now I may be going on the market next year instead. (It’s too late to pull it together for this year, and even more so for Bullock’s field.) It remains to be seen. The administration might meet resistance from the students and community as well as the faculty (it deserves to) and might be stymied, so some wait-and-see might be worth it. And of course, Bullock and I have to define what we want for ourselves.
I know I’m being incredibly vague and it’s not clear what’s at stake. I’m going to post about this and with more concrete detail – I just have to figure out how. Perhaps in the meantime I can post other things, but I’m finding all of this to be consuming a lot of my mental energy at the moment.