Monday, April 5, 2004

Them Wacky Academics

Professors do a funny thing. When they list their academic affiliation on their curriculum vitae (CV), they put "Current Position." The implication is that it's temporary. It screams out, "I don't plan to be at this embarrassing place for long!" It says the person in question is better than the job he or she has. It expresses frustration, envy, even resentment. Imagine some other applications of this principle: Current residence. Current citizenship. Current crime record. Current wife (or husband). There does seem to be a lot of mobility within the professoriate. Everyone is on the make and on the move, trying to climb the ladder to the top. Ambition reigns. Status rules. Not in a top-twenty program? Get going! Not yet a star professor? You're not working hard enough! The professor's mantra is "Have Ph.D., will travel." The impolite name for this is "mercenary." I once fell victim to this onward-and-upward mentality. It's engrained in graduate students. Then, one day, I asked why I would want to go anywhere else. I'm happy where I am. I have all the research-related resources I need; I have great colleagues (including our secretary, Billie); I have a reasonable teaching load; I get all the courses I want to teach, when and where I want to teach them; and I like the campus facilities. As if all this weren't enough, I'm delighted with the nonacademic aspects of my life. I live west of the Mississippi (which, perverse as it sounds, means a lot to me); I have a warm-weather climate, which makes for mild winters; I have all the athletic opportunities I want; and, not insignificantly, the cost of living is low (Texas has no state income tax). It amazes me when people uproot their families and leave their friends to get an incrementally higher-paying or more prestigious job. Some professors move across country. Some move several times in a decade. Thank goodness I got that questing out of my system long ago. I'm content with what I have. Are you?

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