Fall Excitement

A new academic year.


August 28, 2014

In the Northern Hemisphere, Fall is right around the corner. Although many of us work right through summer with teaching and administrative assignments, we are still operating on the traditional agricultural calendar and the “End of August” is typically filled with orientations, back-to-school cookouts, faculty dinners, committee assignments, and last-minute trips to the beach.

What one thing are you most excited about and what one thing are you dreading with September just around the corner?

Mary Churchill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA: My institution is participating in the 2014-16 cohort of the A.C.E. Comprehensive Internationalization Lab and we launch this fall. It’s exciting because we are already doing some amazing internationalization work at Salem State and, like many institutions, we fail to communicate this work as well as we could. Part of the lab process focuses on helping institutions develop methods for telling a cohesive “story” about your university’s internationalization efforts. Something I’m a little nervous about? My graduate team is gearing up for a record number of entering students this fall - we are thrilled, excited, and also a little nervous - it’s a fantastic period of growth for graduate programs at many public institutions and we are constantly checking in with students to hear from them about ways to improve, especially on the student support side. As the Graduate School role at Salem State is a new one for me, I will be looking for ways to support my team, particularly my Associate and Assistant Deans.

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Kentucky, USA:  My new job. I’ve transitioned into an alt-ac position, at a center for teaching and learning, at a new institution. I can’t wait to start actually working with faculty and graduate students on incorporating project-based learning and digital tools into their classrooms. I’m also working on building up the digital humanities presence here, so that’s great, too. And I’m nervous about this transition, too. It’s new and different and exciting and a little scary! I’m also looking forward to not teaching. I’ve been on a 5-4 course load of writing-intensive courses for the past four years, and I’m looking forward to being able to focus on some other initiatives and interests that I have. I’ll be back in the classroom soon enough, but for the fall, I’m looking forward to not having the prepping and the grading and the grading and the grading…

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, Evanston, Illinois, USA:  One of the best parts of my fall happens on Facebook.  As my advisees head out on fellowships around the globe, they post photos of their exploits, and I am able to live vicariously through them.  When I visited Seoul in April, I had already seen it through the eyes of my advisees.  I couldn’t possibly catch up, but the autumn albums of adventures make sure that I will never be bereft of a bucket list.  I dread, however, the tears of students whose dreams don’t come true in the way they first envision them.  Those same short-term “unsuccessful” students may post glamorous photos a year or two down the line, but the depth of their all-be-it temporary disappointment traumatizes me.

Janni Aragon, Victoria, BC, Canada: I am always excited to see a new term begin and this term is no different. I am teaching one first year course and look forward to meeting 200 new students in that course. I am on reduced teaching load thanks to my administrative role and this will offer me a busy term with the migration into a new version of our campus Learning Management System. What am I dreading? Any speed bumps related to the migration. I am also hopeful that the government and the teachers' union will come to an understanding and the kids will get back to school. Overall, I continue to live my life by the school term and as much as I love Summer, I also enjoy the start of a new school year.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez, Framingham, Massachusetts, USA: I am most looking forward to the electrifying energy that students bring to campus. Just having them around energizes me. I feel a little younger and like my professional life has a little more meaning when they are around. I am also looking forward to planning, over the next few weeks, the outcomes and impact I want to have this academic year. We have so many exciting projects in the pipeline. I will need to focus on what’s most important. I am not looking forward to the suburban school buses stopping at every two houses. Not looking forward to traffic or the impossibility of finding a parking space in the first few weeks.

Rosalie Arcala Hall, Iloilo City, Philippines: My university shifted to an August-start academic calendar this year. Coming out of a four-month teaching hiatus (we ended the last term in April), it is hard to get back into the rhythm. But I am excited about my senior research course, having set new goals for the students for the two terms they will be crafting the proposal and carrying out their projects. I will be organizing teams to do research on local conflict and security concerns with an end view of applying for the in-house small research grant, producing an entry for the Best Paper competition by the Division and student papers for a panel in the Philippine Political Science Association conference. Very ambitious goals I have set for the 10 class members. As I do more of my own research in Mindanao, I hope to dovetail my activities and those of my students towards generating more insights in this study area.  

Meg Palladino, New Haven, Connecticut, USA: Fall is my favorite time of the year.  Unlike many of my peers on campus, I am looking forward to fall because it is a quieter time for reflection and travel; I work for Summer Session, so I am just coming off of the most hectic time of the year.  I can finally take my “summer” vacation, and I have two conferences to attend.  I can start thinking about how to do it all bigger and better next year, and put some thought into marketing, curriculum development, and tightening up administrative processes.  

What are you looking forward to this fall?


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