Tuesday, August 31, 2004

As busy as I want to be ...

Well, this semester is not off to the greatest start for my blogging. I have been absolutely SWAMPED with the beginning of the semester and the launch of a new phase of my career.

To add to the crushing weight of my research, teaching (and not forgetting the endless unpacking I've been enduring) and committee duties, I have also been negotiating with ISP firms for the division of journalism's news outlet, SMUNews.com.

It's hard putting together a master budget for a project that has an unknown direction and unknown focus. I wound up pitching a 3-year budget of about half a million dollars for tools, services and facilities. And that's not counting the human resource element that will have to be addressed in the coming months.

The goal of this project will be to generate a world-class news product that is completely built and maintained by students. We'll see how true to my ideals I am as the deadlines rush at me.

Well, I am preparing for another class, so I should get back to work.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Where in the blog have I been?

Well, so much for keeping up with my work over the summer. I have backlogged several dozen blog topics and even some half-finished projects, but haven't posted in quite a while.

This has been a busy summer. I graduated from UT, got a job, moved, had my 30th birthday, went on vacation (pictures coming soon) and now am starting my new job.

So now I am a professor. Or assistant professor, technically, though no one outside the academy seems to understand our ranks anyway.

I taught my first class last week as a professional academician. The experience wasn't THAT different from all my teaching as an Assistant Instructor in grad school, but it felt good knowing I was being paid much better and respected a bit more.

Southern Methodist University. SMU. It's be quite an experience so far. Some things were as I expected, but more were complete surprises. It's an odd world, an extremely conservative city that houses this university that houses a surprising liberal faculty (at least, most of the professors I've met tend to lean to the left) with an overwhelmingly privileged and conservative student body.

Actually it's more complex than that. There are some parts of this culture that are downright conservative (I had to sit through a half hour of arguments about whether students should be allowed to wear baseball caps in class) and other parts that are decidedly not (there is a much higher ratio of faculty who are openly gay than there was at UT).

And I can already tell that motivating my students is going to be much harder here than at UT. They just don't seem hungry the way my former students did. I suppose the fact that the two groups' average family tax brackets are on different ends of the financial spectrum accounts for some of this. I have my work cut out for me.