Summer Summary

David Galef reports on how the faculty of U of All People is spending its time until classes resume.

July 3, 2007

At U of All People, summer is a time for faculty members to recharge their batteries, maybe take on a second job to make ends meet, or just clean out that office filing cabinet growing mold on its north face. We asked a variety of professors at the university what their summer plans were; their responses follow:

Professor Valerie Lockhart, English Department:
"Reading Moby-Dick. I’ve taught it for over 10 years, and it’s about time I got all the way through it. Last year, a student started getting suspicious, and I can’t just keep relying on Masterplots. Then a friend of mine in San Diego has invited me to go whale-watching.”

Dr. Len Dresden, Philosophy Department:
“Finishing an article that was due back in 2003, a refutation of Kant’s answer to Locke’s refutation of Descartes. At least I think it was Descartes. It’s been some time since I looked at the piece. I think I even returned all my library books on the subject.”

Jackson Hobbs, Historian:
“Re-enacting the Battle of the Bulge with historical accuracy in my basement. It’ll be fun. I’m going to invite a bunch of colleagues from around the state. We’ll have authentic uniforms and weaponry, and the school cafeteria serves up something that tastes an awful lot like K-rations.”

Professor Jean-Luc Dupris, French Department:
“Paris, 17th Arrondissement, a little apartment on loan from a friend who owes me. I also have some leftover money from a grant last year to study the pluperfect tense, so I can live it up a bit over there. It’s the only thing that makes this third-tier job worthwhile.”

Kenneth Brown, math instructor:
“I’ve told people that I was working on three linked proofs in topology, but it wouldn’t get me anything, not at a place like this. The people tenured here haven’t published anything in years. I might just sit in a pasture and count cows.”

Associate Professor Stan Frude, Psychology Department:
“Writing seventeen, count ’em, 17, grant proposals to make sure I get some kind of funding next year. As it is, I’ve been re-using the disposable apparatus we used to sacrifice the lab rats, and it’s getting kind of gross.”

Karl Beame, Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering:
“I’ve wangled a consulting job for Constructo-Tech in Seattle. They fly me out there, feed me, and give me twice my annual salary. I figure if I do this for three summers running, I might just be able to repay my student loans.”

Dr. Mark Chen, Physicist:
“I’ll be at CERN near Geneva, fiddling with tiny particles by day and drinking in the rathskeller at night. We’ll be studying the path of pions through a Hadron calorimeter. The rest of the stuff not even I have clearance to know about.”

Assistant Professor Olivia Kay, Political Science Department:
"I have to revise my Poli Sci 101 lecture notes after the students last year called the course a snooze and staged a sleep-in next to my office.
I'll also be working on a new course that I hope will be more provocative, called 'The President: Evil or Just Plain Dumb?'"

Cynthia Clarke, artist-in-residence, Art Department:
“Making public art downtown without a permit. I work with these large Dry-Erase boards that I marker graffiti on and leave at intersections. It’s cool, counterculture, and totally subversive. Besides, I couldn’t get a gallery to represent me this year.”

Professor Dirk Omsk, Theater Department:
“This’ll be the fifth year running that we’ve put on Romeo and Juliet, but we always get a good crowd, and it’s better than staging The Mikado with all those phony accents. Besides, we can reuse all the props and costumes from last year.”

Professor Henry Baum, Department of Music, Emeritus:
“Teach trumpet at summer school. I’ve been bored ever since I retired, and I can use the money.”


David Galef is a professor of English and administrator of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Mississippi. His latest books are the novel How to Cope with Suburban Stress and the co-edited fiction anthology 20 over 40.


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