Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Following the Dream or the Pocketbook?

Yesterday I accepted an offer to teach as a lecturer at a state university starting in the fall of 2011.  I've been teaching one class for this institution this spring semester on a part-time, temporary basis.  It’s not the most lucrative job in the world,  but I had to balance out what I like to do and what I have expertise in with the dictates of bills and debts that need constant attention.  C’est la vie.  I had been giving serious consideration to leaving academic life altogether and working in the military contract industry.

What appealed to me is the warm reception of the faculty and their respect, even for a crusty Army Reservist who has shed his pusillanimous “academese” bearing over the years in exchange for a more authoritative, roll-with-the-punches demeanor.  (I’m fairly certain they know from the grapevine that I’m in the Army, even if I don’t brandish my military credentials when in the corridors of academia).  Also, I have the freedom to create my own courses, pending the approval of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs who seems to trust my judgment and ability.  Lastly, this position has the potential of leading toward better prospects.  All too often, however, I’ve found that there’s no guarantee in life.  I worked tirelessly for two other universities for years, commiting myself to the students’ academic wellbeing, improving my skills as an instructor, and churning out a few publications with their institution printed under my name.  These were great experiences, but they didn’t yield the normal career that I sought so ardently.  Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers, especially with the economic woes our nation currently faces.  I look forward to this new job and will count my blessings, even if it doesn’t ultimately lead to a career.