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Moving offices (#1148)

Topics/tags: Autobiographical

Since the Noyce Phase II construction that moved CS to Noyce 3rd, my office has been in Noyce 3824. Well, it’s mostly been Noyce 3824. For the past two years, I’ve been out of my office in Noyce 3824. I expect to be moving back to Noyce sometime this summer, but I probably won’t be moving back into Noyce 3824. Why not? Because the tradition in our department is that we clear out the old folk [1] to ensure that the new folk can be on the same floor as most of the other faculty. And when I say we clear out the old folk, I mean that the more senior faculty volunteer to move. It’s not a very long tradition; Henry Walker moved downstairs. John Stone indicated he’d be willing to move downstairs. I assume that I’m next in line.

For those who’ve not seen my office, it’s crowded. I have six bookcases [2] comprising way too many linear feet of books [3], two lateral filing cabinets, lots and lots of tchotchkes, six or so paintings [6], and more. Oh, I also have a desk, a pair of tables by the window, a round desk to work with students at, and assorted chairs. Also an oriental carpet [7]. Probably other things I’m forgetting. It’s going to be challenging [8] to move. There’s also the question of space. I’m not sure how many bookcases FM can put into another office. I assume we’d move some from my current office because, well, the younger generation doesn’t seem quite as enamored of books [9]. I’m hoping we can move the four wooden shelves from the east wall. But we might not move any.

Since Henry Walker is vacating his office, I’ve asked to be moved into his office. It’s a sensible place. It’s the nearest second-floor office to Noyce 3rd, which helps with departmental communication and continuity. It’s also near Barbara Johnson’s office, which is likely to be helpful as we teach overlapping courses next year. But I’m told that Henry’s office space is in high demand. It’s also near Chemistry and the Science Learning Center. Plus, it started out as a Biology office [11]. But it would be a good office for me; there are two bookcases already and there’s wall space for more bookshelves if I rearrange the room a bit. And I’d certainly appreciate the implicit connection to Henry.

There are other places the College might put me. We’ve housed some of our visitors [12] on what was originally designed as the SFS/Visitor corridor on Noyce Second. But, well, Grinnell Science grew more than expected, and it’s become a home for tenure-line faculty, too. So there’s a chance that I’ll get moved to one of those. I think these offices are smaller than the standard tenure-line offices [14], which makes moving my stuff there worrisome.

I know that I’m getting close to the point in my career in which I need to get rid of books. Lots of books. Lots and lots of books. I probably don’t need them all. I certainly don’t need them all. As one of my sons says, Dad, why do you need six different editions of The Chicago Manual of Style? [15] But there’s something strangely comforting about having every edition I’ve purchased. I may never teach Tutorial again; perhaps I don’t need three shelves of books on writing. I wonder if someone reading this would want them. Somehow, I find it easier to get rid of books if I know they are going to a good home. Two of the boys went to Grinnell, but I don’t think they’ll want my shelf of books on Grinnell or on or by Grinnellians [16].

Since two of my offspring are pursuing careers in computing, I wonder if either of them will eventually want some of my CS books. Not all of them; no sensible person wants all of them. But perhaps they’ll want the collection of CS classics. Maybe the books on gender in computing.

Oh well, I still have some time until retirement [17,18]. I don’t need to get rid of the books now. But I should start thinking about it. Maybe I’ll make a list of the genres that live in my office and lab. Then I can post it and see if folks want groups of books. Mayhaps my next leave will include more time devoted to cleaning things out. Come to think of it, I should use my next leave to vacate my lab to provide room for a younger faculty member. I’ll still need a lab, I’ll just try to use a smaller one.

Speaking of labs and offices, I hope that the Dean’s office is making long-term plans for CS space. If we ever reach the nine or ten faculty members that sixty majors per class year demands, we’ll need more offices and more labs. We’ve already started to see the strain; I believe I was the first science faculty member in recent years who had to vacate not only their office to make room for a visitor [19,20]. Oh well, the Dean’s office has known about these issues for a while, back to when Kate Walker was treasurer [21]. It’s not my responsibility to address them [22].

For now, I’d just like to know where I’m moving and when I’m supposed to move. It’s going to take some planning to figure out how to move everything. What furniture will the new office need? Will FM provide it? What will fit and where will it fit? What do I have to move elsewhere? And I hope that the timing is right that I’ll still have a son or two here to help. Oh well, it’s not in my control. I’ll find out when I find out.

Postscript: Here’s what my 3824 office looks like when cleared out for a visitor. The tchotchkes and some of the books are gone, as is the oriental carpet and, well, lots of other stuff.

Two wooden bookshelves against a wall.  Other aspects of the office are visible in the picture. Four wooden bookshelves, three filled beyond capacity, one mostly empty.

[1] No, not the dead wood.

[2] Six was my estimate without looking back into the office. I found a photo that seems to verify the claim.

[3] I had intended to measure but forgot. Let’s assume each bookshelf is forty-five inches wide [4]. Five shelves per bookshelf, times six bookshelves, divided by twelve inches per foot. About 112 linear feet. But my books don’t all fit; I stored some, moved some to my other office, and purchased some more [5].

[4] Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate estimate.

[5] Bad Sam!

[6] Do we count my children’s childhood paintings? Then it’s more. But they aren’t up in my office right now.

[7] Currently in storage in my lab.

[8] And time-consuming.

[9] Arguably, few people are as enamored of books as I am [10].

[10] I do have fond memories of Ellen Mease’s books flowing out of her office into the bookshelves in the waiting area outside her office. But Ellen is a literary theorist; books should be part of her life.

[11] Bruce Voyles’, I believe.

[12] As well as one young faculty member who indicated a preference for being near other scientists to permit collaboration.

[14] I know that they are smaller than the normal Math/CS/Stats offices, but I don’t know the norms for tenure-line offices.

[15] From the first copy I bought as a grad student to the latest one.

[16] By shelf, I mean full bookshelf, as in five shelves on a bookshelf, five overflowing shelves.

[17] Well, senior faculty status.

[18] Musing forthcoming.

[19] I believe some people did so voluntarily, but most of those were either doing sabbatical out of Grinnell or got an office elsewhere in Noyce.

[20] I’m not complaining. I volunteered to leave my Noyce Office. I love my office at 1127 Park Street. It’s just that if I hadn’t volunteered, our visitor would have been physically isolated from the department.

[21] When Raynard was discussing expanding the student body, I asked where we could fit more faculty. I was told there was room. I don’t know where. But, as I said, it’s not my responsibility to figure that out.

[22] I’m also happy to see that colleagues are thinking about that question. One asked about it at today’s faculty meeting. Noyce is full.

Version 1.0 of 2021-05-18 .