Thursday, August 26, 2010

"of or suitable for the Sabbath"

Prefatory note: I hope that readers of the blog will enjoy our new feature of having regular posts of original content. Boris started things off last week and in turn, we've each added a bit of looking back, looking forward, or looking around. Please feel free to comment on our posts.
The subject of my post for this week is my mini-sabbatical. Typically, a sabbatical is time away from one's profession, over the course of one semester or an entire year. Faculty apply to "take" a sabbatical and, upon being awarded the sabbatical, they are able to spend the time in a way that is meaningful to them. It is hoped that this opportunity will, then, contribute to the greater good of the organization -- in this case, Georgetown College. Being granted a sabbatical is, in my opinion, both a reward and an affirmation from the college.
There are, if memory serves me correctly, three students among our art majors who would be able to recall the year that Boris was on sabbatical. He spent a good part of 2006-07 in New York, taking up a studio there, travelling to Australia to present material at a conference, and a number of other activities that a prolonged period away from regular teaching duties can provide. In the coming years Daniel and Darrell will make their applications for tenure and promotion, then also sabbatical. Having our faculty take sabbaticals is, I feel, an affirmation that your art faculty are scholars in their fields and, because of this, the college affords them time-off as a re-investment in us, affording us time for concentrated study.
Because of various administrative and other obligations, I have been awarded a mini-sabbatical (I think the term, actually is "staggered"). This means that I will be teaching half as many courses over the course of the year and, also, working, feverishly, on several projects over this year. One of these is curating an exhibition at the Loiusville Visual Arts Association. Another project is completing an essay on public sculpture that will appear in Choice, a publication of the American Library Association. These two projects are on the docket, and I've got several others in my Filofax.
I am not sure how many of these activities qualify as being "suitable for the Sabbath", as the etymology of "sabbatical" connotes, but I think that they are worthwhile. The projects that I have undertaken, and will continue to work on over the course of this year, are meaningful to me and enable (and will continue to enable) me to focus some attention and energy reading and researching topics that I love. I've already got a few books up my sleeve that I'd like to share on the blog in the coming weeks.
So, while you may see me less frequently on campus, know that my time is being spent reading and researching, sharing my work, and spreading the word about Georgetown College and our amazing galleries and department, including my colleagues and students. Thank you to everyone who has come by to visit this week to visit and to check in with me. I do appreciate it!
Dr. Decker (who goes by the pen name Earl Grey)


J. Daniel Graham said...

I never knew the etymology of sabbatical, very interesting.
I am excited to see the fruit of your staggered sabbath.
We know you are going to be working hard and hopefully having fun.

you would enjoy this (as well as others interested in the idea of sabbatical)

Earl Grey said...

Thanks, Daniel, for sharing the link. I agree with Sagmeister's principle of having time off and becoming inspired. Sadly, one of the commenters on that site has it all wrong. He says "many people working in education have two or three long periods free per year..." and justifies this as a reason why people in education are content with lower pay. I don't know that I would put time off and pay as equivalent terms.