The start of the Fall academic term has always been a bittersweet experience for me. It is the end of what usually has been a glorious summer (especially the research and holiday components) and the start of conforming to a regular routine (teaching and administration). So, it is with a tinge of remorse and a pang of anticipation that I confront the first week of classes.
As a professor:
Bitter: The end of the so-called “four month summer”. (See my July 15 posting.)
Sweet: Seeing all the excited first-year students wandering the campus, full of pride at starting university.
Bitter: The loss of the freedom to come and go when I please. Typically my calendar would now start filling up with a host of teaching duties and administrative meetings.
Sweet: Teaching again. Although I love teaching, I always feel a bit nervous at the first class of the term. By the end of the class, I am always invigorated.
Bitter: The clogged roads that lead to/from the University in the morning/afternoon rush hours.
Sweet: Meeting new graduate students who, until now, have been a collection of online admission documentation.
Bitter: The long lineups for food in SUB during lunch hour.
Sweet: Talking to new students and realizing how talented they are. Was my generation as talented when we entered university?
Bitter: The annual NSERC research grant application cycle begins. The application itself is only a few pages, but it seems to consume an enormous amount of time getting it just right.
Sweet: Wait! I don’t have to apply to NSERC this year. Whew!
Bitter: The end of the summer festivals in Edmonton.
Sweet: Anticipation of the fall. I love a long autumn, especially when the leaves change color. I regret that in Edmonton the colorful leaves do not stay on the tree long enough.
Bitter: My weekend runs through the green spaces of Edmonton are numbered.
Sweet: Our dog finally stops shedding.
Bitter: My daughter, Rebecca, returns to her University studies at UBC.
Sweet: My daughter, Rebecca, returns to her University studies at UBC.
As the new Dean:
Bitter: My two months of reflection and information gathering on the Faculty of Science is over.
Sweet: Now it is time to start delivering.