Happy new academic year!
Today is the start of the new academic year at the Claremont Colleges and I’m confident in saying it’s not going to be like any other before. We’re all online this semester, a first for me–and a first for most of us at the five colleges.
In lots of ways, the liberal arts model is the opposite of online education. It’s very personal. It’s about small, collaborative, and even intimate kinds of learning spaces. It’s as much about the conversations that happen in the hallways and in the quad, in the dining halls and in the dorms, as the ones that happen in the classroom.
Of course, online education can be a lot of these things. It’ll just take work, creativity, and a willingness to fail and grow. I’ve literally spent the last two months preparing my classes and while I feel as unprepared as I do for any other semester (maybe a little more so because it’s hard to anticipate what the normally predictable “feel” of the semester will be), I’m also excited about working with students to define what our new learning context can mean for us.
Maybe the most fun part of this is that I feel like a new professor again, despite the fact that this is my 19th year as a full-time professor (tenure-track and tenured combined). I got my first TA gig at Cal back in 1995. That makes this year the start of my 25th year as college instructor.
I first arrived at the Claremont Colleges in August 1990 as first-year undergrad at Claremont McKenna College. After graduating, I went straight to grad school at UC Berkeley and then got my first academic job straight out of Cal. That means I’ve been in this higher education world consistently for the last three decades, making this the start of my 31st consecutive year in higher education.
It’s always mind-blowing to write the above. None of it seems odd to me and all of it feels right but, at the same time, how have I been alive long enough to have been in a single industry for three decades?
And so it continues and, yet, begins anew. May it be a good year.