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Disconnected (#1178)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical, Grinnell

It’s midway through my twenty-fifth year at Grinnell.

I’ve been fortunate.

Quite fortunate.

Astoundingly fortunate.


I’m paid to teach, which is my joy, my passion, my vocation.

I’ve had the privilege to teach incredible people, people who are incredible in so many ways. Not just nice, or smart, or hard working. People who can make a difference. More than that, too. I can’t put it into words. Let’s stick with one word, incredible.

Through teaching, advising, mentoring, promoting, cajoling, and even just chatting, I have sometimes made a difference to these incredible people. I like to think it’s a positive difference.

I’ve also been able to study things that interest me and to involve some of these incredible people in my studies.

I’ve had many opportunities to write. Perhaps everyone does.

I’ve served a discipline I love and an institution that I’d become increasingly passionate about.


However …

However …

However, I find myself increasingly disconnected from this institution.

Perhaps I find the institution increasingly disconnected from me.

Perhaps both.

Others share these feelings. Perhaps just a few; perhaps many.


I’ve been pondering what has led to this disconnect. Pondering, reflecting, thinking, considering, studying, asking, writing, talking, shouting, screaming, crying.

I’ve tried to go beyond the harms and hurts, the things that frustrate me so much I want to scream, the incursions on academic freedom, the policies and procedures that make it harder for me to do my job, the silences, the broken web of trust, the easy dismissals, the failure to value careful language, the rest.

I’ve pondered what’s at the core.

I’ve pondered.

And pondered.

And pondered.

Perhaps I’ve pondered too much. I’ve been known to do that from time to time. Perhaps I haven’t pondered enough. Perhaps.


I may have an answer. It may not be the only answer. It may not even be an accurate answer. Nonetheless, it may suffice. At least it may suffice for the time being.

More than a decade ago, back when Russell K was president, Mark Schneider warned us that, unless we were proactive, Grinnell would go from being an excellent academic institution with a large endowment


a large endowment with an attached institution.

An academic institution; mustn’t forget that.

And …

And …

And I don’t have anything to add.


Oh well.


I will continue to teach.

I expect to continue to have the great fortune to teach incredible people.

Potentially, I will still make a difference to them.

I will also continue to have the great fortune to work with amazing colleagues. I neglected to mention that before. I should have.

I will continue to study things that interest me. I’ll continue to involve students, at least if there’s not too much additional needless overhead involved.

I will continue to have opportunities to write. Perhaps everyone does.

I will continue to serve the discipline I love.

And I’ll continue to do necessary or required administrative work.


Reminder to self: It’s just a job.

Version 1.0 of 2021-12-30.