This week, after more than 40
years, I will step into a classroom as a teacher for the last time. This week, for the first time in nearly 60
years, the rhythm of my life will not be the rhythm of the academic
In 1953, I entered kindergarten
(and escaped, into the first grade, after one semester). In 1965, I arrived on a college campus as a
student for the first time. Within only
a few months, I found myself thinking of college as home. Within four years, I realized I did not want
to leave. And so I went to graduate
school. And in late August, 1970, I became
a TA at West Virginia University. There,
TAs mostly had complete classroom responsibility for two courses per semester,
and that semester I taught two sections of introductory microeconomics (Economics
51, as I recall), at 3:00 and 4:00 PM, MWF. That 4 o’clock class remains, to
this day, one of my worst teaching experiences.
It was a class of about 35 students, and on the first Friday (the Friday
before Labor Day), about 6 students showed up.
The next Friday, even fewer…
In 1973, I got my first
full-time teaching position (the first of three one-year gigs, as it turned
out), serving as a leave-replacement instructor at Alderson-Broaddus College in
Philippi, WV. My own office (for the
first time) with bookshelves and an actual window. [At the end at WVU, I shared an office in the
old basketball facility, with pieces of dry wall falling from the roof after
rainstorms (by which point they wet-wall)]
With four years out to work in local government in the late 1970s (and
teach part-time), it’s been full-time teaching ever since, the past 25 years
here at Indiana University Northwest, in Gary, IN…35 years as a full-time
faculty member, four years as an adjunct, and 3 years as a TA.
And it’s been a truly great
experience for me. I have been able to
work at a job that provided me with great satisfaction, I have been able (I
hope) to help a fairly large number of students learn enough economics for
their purposes. I’ve done some research
that interested me, even if no one else much cared. I have met and worked with and become close
friends with a group of people I can truly say have changed my life. Some have also been economists, some have
been in other disciplines and even at other institutions. I cherish them all.
Now, however, the work—the paid
work—part of that comes to an end. I am
pleased to say I am not ambivalent about it.
I have things I want to do, and I will be happy with the difference this
makes in my personal life as well (we live in two cities and each of us works
in one of them; the commuting will end).
As Robert Hunter wrote (in “Truckin’
”), what a long, strange trip it’s been.
And I am happy to have taken it.