Sabbatical lite coming soon…

I can see the finish line of the spring term– just a pile of end of term grading, one short class meeting on Tuesday, final revisions on Wednesday, and grade posting to go. And at the end of this term, I begin my year of sabbatical lite (and thus a new category at the official blog). I mean “lite” since I don’t mean light as in “bright” or even light as in “not heavy,” but I mean it as it is with beer, “watered down.” Though I still think it will be tasty.

Here’s the deal:

I was fortunate enough to be awarded a sabbatical for next year to work on my book/research project on blogs as writerly spaces. Now, at EMU (and at most universities nowadays), sabbaticals come in two different varieties: a full year (for 50% of the usual salary) and a semester (for no cut in salary). I flat-out cannot afford the pay-cut at this point in my life, so the one semester option was really the only one available to me.

Now, I also currently get a course release per term so that I can do the work of being the writing program coordinator– not to be confused with the first year writing program. As writing program coordinator, I advise/recruit grad students, advise undergrads, and do a bunch of other administrative work of the program, etc. I have a year and a half left in my term doing that and I don’t want to just quit and dump that work on someone else. As I see it, that means I really couldn’t take a semester completely off even if I wanted to. If, for example, I decided to take a break as the program coordinator for Fall term, I would inevitably have my short-term replacement calling me up/emailing/whatever with various questions anyway. And besides, a semester isn’t really enough.

So, here’s my plan:

For fall term, I’m going to use 2/3rds of my sabbatical time. That means all I’ll do for the fall is be the writing program coordinator. For winter term (2008), I’ll use the remaining third of my sabbatical time, continue to be the writing program coordinator, and teach one course. Thus “sabbatical lite.”

We will see how this works out.

The conventional wisdom I have received has been that a sabbatical is a “all or nothing” kind of thing, and the danger of administrative work based on course release is that it has a way of expanding to occupy the amount of space you allow it to occupy. In other words, I run the risk of spending my sabbatical– which, after all, is supposed to help me with my scholarship– on service.

But I am cautiously optimistic for two reasons. First, I am planning on setting up what I hope will be fairly rigid rules for when I will and won’t do this kind of work: right now, I am thinking that Mondays and Wednesday will be designated “school days,” and that will be it. Second, I’m a little worried about what might happen if I really did take a complete and entire sabbatical. As the saying goes, if you want a task to get done, assign it to someone who is always busy. If I had a semester where all I had to do was work on my scholarship, I am afraid I would spend far too much time watching TV, organizing my sock drawer, etc.

Anyway, we’ll see. Three more days. And a little summer vacation after that. And then it begins….

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