Welcome to my blog, My Year Away.
First, you should know that I still have 199 days until I start My Year Away. But, I want to be ready on Day One. This is a privilege and I don’t want to blow it.
I have been an academic for over 20 years. After a less-than-stellar career in advertising (I was a copywriter who loved to write but always wishing I was writing something else), I decided to head to graduate school (University of Georgia) and get a PhD so I could become a college professor.
My academic trek is not unusual. First stop: Kansas State University, five years (loved it; not crazy about living in Kansas). Second stop: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, eight years (loved it; loved living in Chapel Hill; loved getting tenure). Third stop, Middle Tennessee State University, three years (didn’t love it; learned a lot about administration). Fourth stop, University of South Carolina, six years and counting (love it most of the time).
I’ve spent nine years as an administrator and I’m ready to go back to being a regular tenured full professor. You can read about my decision here. http://chronicle.com/article/Why-I-Am-Dropping-Out-of/142027/
I know I am fortunate. I mean, really, what other job allows you to quit your job, keep your job, and take a year off from your job (with a salary!) all at the same time! I am thankful to have a wonderful academic position at a wonderful university. I do not take it for granted.
Here’s what I’m doing during the 199 days before My Year Away.
1. I’m trying to get more comfortable in the world of social media. I’m getting more active, learning more, understanding more, participating more. (Starting this blog is one concrete demonstration that I’m committed!)
2. I’m preparing for a return to the all-steam-ahead attitude of an active researcher. I’ve started a couple of research projects with current colleagues, former colleagues, and former graduate students.
3. I’m trying to improve my research skills. For example, I am in my last week of my first Coursera MOOC, a statistics class with 100,000 of my closest stats friends. I have learned a ton—and I have totally changed my attitude about distributed learning.
4. I’m working on my teaching. I’m thinking about the kinds of classes I could teach in the future and taking steps now to get my head back into full-time teaching. Next semester, in addition to the doctoral seminar that I teach, I’m taking on a one-credit new course called “Historical Milestones in Advertising History.” And I’m teaching three independent studies on different topics with undergraduates.
I’m still working as a full-time administrator, heading up the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. I have one more semester as an administrator and I plan to stay the course until June 30, 2014.
Then My Year Away begins.
I’d love to take you on the adventure with me. For the next post, I’ll write about some things I’m thinking of doing during My Year Away. I’m hoping for a balance of hard-core research/writing and travels/musing. If you have ideas, let me know!
Thanks for reading. And, welcome to My Year Away!