The end of EMUTalk is near/EMU-AAUP contract negotiatons

I’m always surprised when August arrives. Summer goes along with June and July– and that’s especially true for me this summer since it’s the first time I haven’t taught a summer course since I came to EMU, probably only the second or so time in the last 25 or more years. That’s not to say that I haven’t been working at all– I’m doing sabbatical things, I was involved in EMU’s first Cyberdiscovery camp, I’ve done a bit of quasi-administrative work, and so forth. Still, the summer pace is slower and the summer schedule is a bit more abstract, even “lazy.” But when August rolls around, I know that it means that the end of summer is near.

And with this summer, the end of EMUTalk is also near. I won’t be renewing the domain name or server space when the bill comes due this September– though technically, if someone else wanted to start up their own version of a site with the EMUTalk.org domain name, I suppose they could. Also before September, I am trying to figure out a way to download the entire site and then post it someplace as a file– that is, while it wouldn’t be an active blog anymore, it would at least be available as a “text” for anyone who is interested. If anyone knows the technicalities of converting a wordpress site into one big file, let me know.

But this is not to say that these kinds of posts/comments/discussions are disappearing entirely. For one thing, the EMUTalk Facebook discussion group already has 72 members– and you can join too!  Just login to your Facebook account and either click that link or search for EMUTalk. For another, I will continue to blog about these kinds of things at stevendkrause.com (including this post!), and I am thinking that I will be rearranging my site into more distinct categories, one of which will be “EMU.” Stay tuned.

Anyway, the one thing that is going on this summer that is EMUTalk-like news is faculty contract negotiations. There’s a meeting on Tuesday, August 4 at noon in Roosevelt Auditorium. According to Susan Moeller’s email to faculty the other day, this is the meeting where the bargaining team will show the administration’s first offer in terms of money and benefits. I won’t be making it to this meeting (I’ve got other plans), but I hope to hear from some folks who go here in the comments. But I don’t recall a meeting like this with the faculty this early in the process.

I think this is a positive thing and a pretty good indication of changing times. In the past, it seems like we would have a faculty meeting like this later in the negotiating process, and during one of these late August/early September meetings, the bargaining team has asked for a vote to authorize a strike, and sometimes, it would get real ugly real fast. Nowadays, it seems like the administration and the union have been able to get along and negotiate with each other in a much more (for lack of a better word) “mature” fashion.

The other thing that feels different now than things felt in the past is even the less than techno-sophisticated EMU-AAUP has a blog of sorts where we’re getting regular updates from the union about the negotiation. It’s not exactly a freewheeling and open discussion space, and the site itself is kind of a work in progress, better than what they had before but still not quite ready for prime-time, IMO. For example, take a look at the masthead picture on the negotiations blog:

negotiationsblog

As far as I can tell, that’s a picture of some building in Germany; I certainly don’t recognize that as an EMU building, and I’m pretty sure there’s no signage for the “Stadthalle” in Ypsilanti. Sure, maybe I’m picking at nits here, but that’s a pretty easy problem to fix.

Anyway, if you look at the actual updates on that site, it looks like things are moving right along. A few of the things that I’ve noticed (because they might indirectly impact me) are dealing with the uneven distribution of overload teaching and summer teaching; faculty won’t be able to be on full release to do administrative work; big changes to the graduate council and also electing the president of the faculty senate directly from faculty; more FRFs; and contractually mandated help with Concur. So as long as we get a modest raise and insurance costs remain about the same, then I think we’ll be in good shape.

Anybody have any other thoughts on the negotiation process so far?

EMU-AAUP contract negotiations and an eye on the future

By the way, this is a post I’m writing for both stevendkrause.com and for EMUTalk.org and it’s the kind of thing I’ll keep posting on stevendkrause.com once the sun that is EMUTalk.org sinks below the horizon for good in September or so.

The faculty union, the EMU-AAUP, is in the midst of contract negotiations this summer, and so far, so good. I have no detailed or inside knowledge about what’s going on, but I have chatted with a few colleagues who “know better,” and this is what has happened so far (at least according to the EMU-AAUP web site):

  • There is nothing particularly contentious on either side of the table right now. Probably the biggest fight is going to be over administration’s contribution to TIAA-CREF because the administration changed the way this works for new administrators coming to EMU so that it is a noticeably worse deal than it is right now. It’s more complicated than that, but I guess what it boils down to is the administration wants to pay less for retirement than they do right now, and the faculty obviously don’t like that idea.
  • Apparently, faculty at EMU have fallen behind our peers in terms of salaries and such, and given that the finances and enrollments at EMU are generally pretty solid, we will probably see a decent enough raise both in terms of a flat percentage and also in terms of the “bump” between assistant and associate and associate and full. Of course, the union continues to want to negotiate these raises as a flat percentage, which benefits the highest paid faculty at EMU. It is no wonder that the leadership of the EMU-AAUP has been dominated by faculty in the College of Business and the College of Technology, at least that’s pretty much been the case since I’ve been here.
  • There will almost certainly be some kind adjustment in health insurance, though that’s just an educated guess based on the fact that there has been some kind adjustment on health insurance with every contract I’ve seen.
  • The EMU-AAUP site has a blog of sorts where they have been posting updates to the contract negotiations so far, and things seem to be going smoothly. It’s early of course, and they always start with the less contentious stuff, but it looks like there will be some kind of new language/rules on student conduct, there are some changes to the way contracts work for tenure-seeking faculty that makes things a little easier, and there’s going to be some kind of “electronic dossier system” that will end the ridiculous stacks of binders and such that faculty submit for tenure and promotion and the like.

So while I wouldn’t want to predict too much, I’m not too worried about this contract cycle. I’m frankly a lot more worried about what happens next.

The next contract will be the first under Michigan’s change to a “right to work” state, which means that workers in a bargaining unit (in this case the faculty) have the right to “freeload:” that is, the union will continue to represent all faculty for the purposes of negotiations and for grievances, including faculty who decide to not pay their union dues. If enough faculty opt out of paying the dues, the union will be weaker and eventually it could go away.

Just to make matters worse (as reported in Inside Higher Ed here, “Threat to Faculty Unions”), there’s a case that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear next year that could further weaken public sector unions. I’m not sure it would make matters worse in Michigan or not because the IHE article makes it sound that if the court decides that a forced “fair share” fee to a union is unconstitutional, then all states would become “right to work” states.

Either way, the future is worrying. Up until this point, the union hasn’t really had to do much in the way of convincing faculty that the union was a “good idea” because everyone had to pay their dues regardless of how they felt about it. Now if the union doesn’t pay close enough attention to the faculty as a whole, they will risk losing members.

I don’t think there is going to be a bunch of faculty who abandon the union anytime soon, especially in the current unpredictable climate higher education is in, and, as I have said many times before, I am all for the union. At the same time, I think the EMU-AAUP has to make some subtle changes in how it does things.

First, it needs to continue to be responsive to the constituency generally and not just to those who are loudest. A really subtle example of what I mean: the EMU-AAUP opened contract negotiation season with this video that depicts the “battle” that as about to come as akin to one of good versus evil and with all of the drama and special effects of a summer blockbuster. Now, I get that this is a parody and it’s supposed to “fire up” the base and all of that. But a lot (most?) faculty don’t see the administration strictly as the “them” that the “us” is fighting, and the “we’re here to battle” is not exactly a tone to take at the start of what can hopefully become a mutually beneficial negotiating process.

And along these lines, I think the union has to be a little more careful in some of its communication and sometimes knee-jerk responses. A good example of this for me personally is the whole Yik Yak mess: if the EMU-AAUP had held on to its initial position of banning Yik Yak on campus (they seemed to have backed off on that), I probably would have opted out of union dues as a matter of public protest. It’s easy for me to imagine lots of other scenarios where the union leadership does something that ticks off enough people to cost them a lot in dues.

Second, I think the EMU-AAUP needs to do more to emphasize the positive, and there really is a lot of positive with the union. They need better PR and better communication. They’re starting to do that with the revamped web site (though I think there are a lot of clunky elements to the new design), but I think it needs to go further than that. Rather than assuming that all faculty see the obvious benefits to the union, the EMU-AAUP needs to sell itself a bit better than it has done in the past.

Like I said, I don’t think faculty are going to leave the union anytime soon. The one percent or so of salary that faculty pay in dues is definitely worth it to me (though one thing the EMU-AAUP might do– if this is possible– is to have more of a sliding scale on dues that is tied to salary and/or rank, which would make the incentive for lower paid faculty to skip out on dues even less– just a thought). At the same time, the future of the EMU-AAUP and of academic unions generally seems murky to me.

Seven Observations About Why Tenure is not “All That”

There’s been a lot of talk in the social networks I travel about tenure lately because of the mess in Wisconsin. For example, there are these two pieces from the New York Times, “Unions Subdued, Scott Walker Turns to Tenure at Wisconsin Colleges” and “Tenure Firmly in Place, but Colleges Grow Wary of Lasting Commitments.” Both of these articles only mention in passing the real crisis, IMO, that of the enormous budget cuts that Walker et al are forcing in the UW system.

Also, I don’t think either of these articles makes it clear that the system in Wisconsin is also unique in that tenure was specifically protected by state law– that’s what Walker managed to change. Ultimately, I suspect there will still be a system of tenure within the UW system that is more akin to the way tenure works in other states. But because of all of the emphasis on tenure, I also have a feeling that Walker et al will be able to cram through these budget cuts without a lot of pushback.

In any event, all of this has had me thinking about tenure in general and also how it has impacted me specifically. Perhaps my seven observations are all kind of obvious to other academics, but I thought I’d write them down anyway. But before I get to these points, let me offer two very important caveats/disclaimers/preferences/whatever:

  • I am for tenure. I don’t think it’s a perfect system (obviously), but I think it’s better than the alternatives. And of course, I’ve been tenured at EMU since 2002 and a full professor since 2007, and I’m not giving up tenure anytime soon.
  • I think the stuff going on in Wisconsin is insane. I worry tremendously for my colleagues and the students in the UW system, and I also worry about some of what’s happening there spreading to other states. I mean, I never thought Michigan would follow Wisconsin’s lead as a “right to work” state, but that’s exactly what happened a few years ago. I sure as hell hope that Walker’s moves in higher education don’t catch on.

Okay, my seven (or so) observations: Continue reading “Seven Observations About Why Tenure is not “All That””

Talking Back to the EMU-AAUP About Yik-Yak

Let me begin with three preambles/preemptions. First, I want to apologize to the colleagues I have who are offended by my disagreement with them and the  EMU-AAUP about their call for censoring Yik-Yak. I am sure folks will disagree with me, especially the three women faculty who felt they were sexually harassed and defamed in an honors class this past fall. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to convince you to change your minds about all this, but maybe I can persuade at least a bit.

Second, in answer to the question many readers might have, “why do you care?” Well, my teaching and scholarship has centered on internet technologies like this for over 20 years, and there have been times where I’ve caught a fair amount of shit about it. Just a couple of examples: back when I was a graduate teaching assistant and back in the days when it was weird for students to have email, a fellow grad student and I went through a lot of hoops to set up a mailing list discussion between our sections of first year writing. My “boss” at the time called me and my fellow GA into her office to more or less yell at us for doing something so crazy. I’ve had to fight with IT people to let my students make web pages. I’ve had to explain the relevance and usefulness to various folks about having students create blogs, post to Twitter, etc. It is very easy to see how I could use Yik-Yak in some of the classes I’ll be teaching next year.

So my “talking back” to the the union isn’t just a rant. This is me defending my teaching and my scholarship. This is important to me. And since I’m a tenured full professor, I feel I have an obligation to speak out about this.

Third, I’m going to post this on both EMUTalk.org and stevendkrause.com, for what it’s worth.

Okay, my talking back after the break: Continue reading “Talking Back to the EMU-AAUP About Yik-Yak”

WIDE-EMU 13 is in the books

Well, we did it again: Bill, Derek, and I organized and hosted WIDE-EMU 13, the third in a row for the free unconference (sort of) we thought up in a long car drive as much as a dare as it was an effort to test the concept of what would it be like to hold a free conference.  Do a search on twitter for #wideemu to get a taste of the tweets, or take a look at this Storify put together by Laura Gonzales.

This year was a little different from the previous two. It was a little smaller than it had been the previous two years, maybe around more like 30 or 40 folks rather than 50 to 70. I think there was a bit of “I’ve done that already” by previous participants and a few schedule conflicts for a few other folks, though it also seems like there has been an uptick in similar small and local conferences within about 100 miles from here. It was also different this time in that we didn’t have a keynote speaker and decided to go with a longer lunch.

But you know what? Totally solid presentations and I think the 90 minute lunch really helped facilitate some nice discussion over a nice meal with new and old friends in the field, and for me, that’s the main point of the WIDE-EMU in the first place. And the longer lunch also gave me an excuse to have the Mr. Peanut burger at The Wurst Bar.

Some highlights for me:

  • I bounced around a bit during the first session just to make sure that everyone was situated and the like, but I  checked in on Phill Cameron’s work with the game “Tales of the Arabian Nights” as a collaborative way to develop narratives and mostly sat in on the session featuring EMU MA program alum (and now faculty at Saginaw Valley) Scott Kowalewski and current EMU folk Elisabeth Däumer, Doug Baker, and Andre Peltier.
  • For Session B, I sat in a talk about pedagogy and multimedia, again Doug Baker and two of our recent MA grads, Theresa Dark and Vicki McNiff, and what I thought was a really provoking and interestingly timed presentation from James Schrimer. Speaking if multimedia: one of the best things I learned yesterday was about an online video editing platform called wevideo that is likely to play a big role in my multimedia writing class in the winter– looks very cool.
  • After a hardy Mr. Peanut burger, I was torn between a panel that I think would have been a lot of fun– “The Best Thing I Ever Taught”– and the one I attended where Meredith Garcia from U of M talked about the fan culture around the podcast Night Vale (and why is it that artists make art like this available for free in the first place) and MA alum and PhD student at U of Louisville Jessica Winck talking about the ownership problems (well, and just the ethical problems too) of teachers posting stuff at the kind of icky site Shit My Students Write.
  • After a last session (I attended one where the all three speakers– Don Unger, Steven Engel, and Kim Lacey– all had interestingly different and related things to say about “peers”), it was time for a stop at The Corner Brewery, and again more sitting down and talking with each other about scholarship, about the field, about brewing beer, about just about anything.  All great stuff.

So, what happens next? Hard to say. Since we’ve done this three times now, it’s not a huge amount of work for us to put this thing on. I mean, between the three of us, I suspect we spent around 30 or so hours on logistics– so it’s not like it’s nothing, but it was a lot easier to do the third time than it was the first.

Still, we’re going to have to do a little re-evaluating about the fourth one of these things. I think the most likely scenario is that we’ll go to every other year or maybe every year and a half to mix up the seasons a bit. I’d like to see us get some other people involved as the leaders/organizers of all this and to see what they’d do with it. So we’ll see.

 

Searching for an Assistant Professor/Associate Director of the FYWP

I am pleased to announce that we are conducting two searches this year in the rhetoric and writing program, a search for a position in technical communication (that committee is being chaired by my colleague Derek Muller) and this search I’m chairing for an assistant professor who will serve as the associate director of the first year writing program. Here’s the official ad as it will appear soon in various places:

The Department of English Language and Literature invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in rhetoric and writing, beginning Fall 2013. We are seeking a colleague who values teaching, research, and service to serve as the Associate Director of the First-year Writing Program in the Department of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University. The Associate WPA is a faculty position which includes partial release for administrative purposes. Candidates must hold a PhD in composition and rhetoric (or a related field) by August 2013. Scholarship and experience in writing program administration also required. The ideal candidate will also have expertise in online and technology-mediated pedagogy. Secondary interests might also include comparative rhetorics, language policies, cultural rhetorics, or disciplinary literacies.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, a statement of teaching philosophy, and a statement of administrative philosophy. Visit https://www.emujobs.com/postings/11338

Review of applications will begin October 26, 2012 and continue until the position is filled.

For more information contact the Search Committee Chair Dr. Steven D. Krause, Search Committee Chair, 612 Pray-Harrold Hall, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

If contacted, you will be asked to present official transcripts of your highest degree earned at the time of interview.

Let me offer a few other details about the place not in the ad:

  • EMU is a great place to work. English is a friendly and diverse department, and my colleagues in the writing program are fantastic. We have an undergraduate major with emphases in writing studies, technical communication, and professional writing, along with closely related programs in English education, journalism, and public relations. At the graduate level, our MA in written communications has emphases in professional writing and the teaching of writing. See:

http://www.emich.edu/english/writing

and

http://writing.emuenglish.org

Institutionally, faculty are represented by a union (we just signed a new contract, one of the better ones in my time here) which helps immensely in clarifying the process for things like tenure and promotion.

  • This colleague will work in a progressive and award-winning first year writing program. It has been an innovative program that developed the first “celebrations of student writing” events under the leadership of Linda Adler-Kassner and Heidi Estrem. The program continues its strong tradition with John Dunn in as the director and with Derek Muller as the current associate director. We have a great group of graduate assistants, part-time instructors, lecturers, and faculty teaching and supporting the program. See http://www.emich.edu/english/fywp/ for more information
  • We’re in a great location. Ypsilanti is about 35 miles west of Detroit and adjacent to Ann Arbor. In fact, EMU is less than seven miles from the University of Michigan, which means that we are lucky enough to enjoy much of what they have to offer– for example, access to their libraries and the many cultural and lifestyle options of the quintessential “college town.” Plus we are close enough to the “big city” to take advantage of what Detroit offers– a conveniently located international airport, world class museums and theater, sporting events, and so forth.

Feel free to contact me at skrause@emich.edu with any questions.

Not much about “iPads” or “Learning” at yesterday’s “Workshop”

Yesterday afternoon, I went to an event sponsored by Apple Education Seminar thing featuring Apple-sponsored speakers and employees that was called an “iPad Learning Workshop.” I’m going to emphasize the positive aspects of it over on my slowly growing academiciPad site, but frankly, I thought it was pretty awful.

It began with an Apple-employed speaker/PR/marketing wonk whose talk was stuff anyone who had heard of the iPad would have been able to figure out and that was about it.  “You can install apps!  You can check your email!  You can watch movies!”  This and she showed not one but two short videos/commercials that were essentially animated text with Apple-like piano music and a few pictures of iPads.  At some point, someone interrupted and asked what I think is a completely reasonable question: given that our students are coming to classes with laptops, what’s the point of an iPad? What is unique about the iPad? And you know what? She didn’t really have an answer to this question.

Really. Really?

This was followed by one of Apple’s teaching experts.  He had some interesting things to say, but it was all about secondary school, not the target audience for this group even if most of the people there were in the College of Education.  Most of what he had to talk about had nothing to do with iPads in particular but more about technology in secondary schools– and specifically, this guy talked about private and religious secondary school he works at in Holland, Michigan, a school which, judging from the pictures, is a completely different world from any public school in the area, not to mention EMU.

It was really striking.  I left that thing thinking a) maybe there is an audience for my month (maybe longer) web site experiment about iPads, and b) I ought to try to go into the educational technology consulting business.

But the other take-away was about universal access.  To the extent that the Apple marketer had anything interesting to say about iPads in teaching, it all assumed that students had these devices in their hands.  The guy from the private school in Holland talked about the enormous initiative at his school to get laptops into the hands of all students and staff and to even remodel/rebuild the school building to provide spaces for folks to collaborate together with those laptops.

So it seems to me that the iPad initiative that I’m a part of this year is completely backwards in that we shouldn’t be giving these things to a few select faculty, but rather, we should be finding a way to get these things into the hands of as many students as possible.  And I am reminded once again that the smartest thing that EMU could do is to push into the late 20th century and require all students to have a laptop computer that meets certain basic benchmarks in terms of processing, software, etc.

In honor of national novel writing month, a new blog (for a month or more)

I’ve been trying lately to follow my own advice to my students in English 621 by working on a project in small bits and pieces as time allows instead of doing what far too many of us do far too often, which is to think “oh, I’ll get to that when I can really spend a solid couple of days on it,” which translates to “never.”  And I’ve been making decent enough progress on revisiting my dissertation to see if I can’t re-see/re-shape it into something for now.  The basic premise of the complexities of rhetorical situation in the digital age are still true, and if nothing else, I’ve been enjoying going back to poke at something that I wrote a long time ago.

Anyway, while that “touch it every day” project is going well, I’ve decided to kind of put it on hold and/or let it compete for time with a new blogging project about iPads (and similar mobile devices) and academic work.  I’m calling it Academic iPad.

Why, you ask? Well, three reasons, basically.  First, while I have always been a bid admirer of National Novel Writing Month and the “just do it and stop over-thinking it” attitude behind that project, I really don’t have a novel in me right now, and November is anything but a “slow month” in terms of work stuff.  So I thought I’d try something a little more modest, and I figure I can write a blog entry a day for a month.

Second, to the extent that people find this blog through a particular search for something (as opposed to those who read this blog once in a while because they might know me in “real life” or through my work at EMU or in computers and writing or whatever), it tends to be about iPad stuff and usually academic iPad stuff.  I figured that perhaps that justifies a whole new space.

And third, I thought I should do something tangible for my participation in EMU’s mobile computing/eFellows initiative.  There is a longer/insider story behind this that I’m not going to go into now, but last winter, I got involved in an initiative here where faculty were supposed to be doing things to learn more about incorporating mobile devices into their work.  But other than getting an iPad from EMU (as a loaner, at least in theory), I haven’t done much of anything with all this.  So I thought if nothing else, I could create a blog/web space that could serve as a place for resources and reflections on the role of iPads (and other “mobile computing” technologies) for academics.

So we’ll see how it goes.  I make no promises that this continues beyond this month, which might also be a good thing, a blog/web site that has a definitive ending point.

The Office, the new season

Things have been quiet around the ol’ blog lately because the new fall term is upon us with a vengeance, mostly because of the move back into the the remodeled but not completely done/sorted out yet Pray-Harrold.  Heck, it’s taken me a couple weeks just to write this little post!

If you were one of the three people who attended the panel I was on about “Pray-Harrold in Exile” in Atlanta at the CCCCs (or if you are one of the 100 or so people who saw this video on YouTube), or if you have read some of the posts and comments on EMUTalk.org about this, then you are aware that my department (and many others) were temporarily uprooted out of our previous office and teaching space, Pray-Harrold Hall, deposited in dorms and other odd places for about 16 months, and now reassembled in slightly different order back in our previous building.

It’s mostly good, with some bad and some frustrations thrown into the mix.  The old building features a lot of new fixtures:  new bathrooms; new flooring, walls, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, and the like; new technology in the regular classrooms; and much better infrastructure in terms of the “guts” of the building, HVAC and electrical and the like.  The bad part of it all is it’s still the same old and huge building, and a compelling argument could be made that we should have torn this thing down and started over.  And there have been a ton of frustrations regarding little things like keys and pretty big things like not very good at all tech support and other problems.

But I don’t want to dwell on that.  I just want to contemplate the office.

Office View #3

On the floor that hosts (most) of the Department of English Language and Literature, there are “interior” offices that are small-ish (10 X 12 or so, maybe a little less) and that lack a window, and “exterior” offices that are close to twice as big and that have a window.  Now, in the pre-remodeling configuration of things, if as a faculty person in the department you wanted your own office, you got an interior one;  if you were willing to share (usually with a part-timer or lecturer), you got an exterior one.  This represented a certain balance in that there were obvious pros and cons to each choice.

Office view #2

For institutional/insider reasons not worth going into, this has changed.  Now exterior offices go to faculty based on being a program coordinator (which was the case before as well) and based on seniority, interior offices go to less senior faculty and full-time lecturers, and part-time instructors are in a different building entirely.  So, as the program coordinator for written communication, I get one of the larger and windowed exterior offices (the one pictured here) all to myself instead of my previous smaller and windowless office.

This has had the effect of both upsetting the previous pro/con, yin/yang balance of one’s office, and it has also meant that some folks have come out much better, a few (almost) exactly the same, and a few much worse.  If I weren’t the program coordinator right now, I would have had an interior office because I’m not quite there seniority-wise.  If enough people retire before I am finished being coordinator and nothing else changes, I’ll get to keep this larger, windowed office.  Maybe.
Office View #3There’s been some grumbling about this arrangement.  I have to say I have a certain amount of what I can only describe as “survivor guilt” about all this because I have definitely come out ahead in the office shuffle, while others have either come out about the same or even a little behind.  And there probably is a more robust way to decide who is in what office.  I know of at least one senior colleague in an exterior office who is never there, for example.  It seems a bit of a waste that this person gets one of the nicer, bigger offices, doesn’t it?

My own way of dealing with this is I am trying to make much more use of my office and I have once again shifted my scholarly/professional “stuff” into that space.  When I first came to EMU back in 1998, I had almost all of my stuff in my school office because we lived an apartment that wasn’t that big.  Then when we bought our house, Annette and I both set up offices in our basement, and over the next eight or so years, my stuff migrated back home and to different places in the house.  In fact, by the time I had to pack up for the move out of Pray-Harrold into Hoyt for our year in exile, there was really nothing in my office anymore I really needed.

So now, I’m circling back to the point where I started at EMU and have shifted everything back into Pray-Harrold.  I even bought some extra shelving.  I tell myself that I am trying to make a clearer division between “life” and “work,” with the work stuff staying up in Pray-Harrold; though I still have a home office and desk space too, and I am sure I will continue to do plenty of work here too.  But at this point in my career, I suspect I won’t be shelping all this stuff back home until I am completely done and retired.

This WIDE-EMU thing might just work

I’ve posted about this on Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus and the like, but I’ll post about it here too:  the deadline for proposals for the WIDE-EMU is tomorrow. This started as one of those things people talk about on a long car trip– specifically, me, Derek, and Bill HD on the way back from the CCCCs in Atlanta– that might or might not amount to anything.  And it’s too early to tell if it will ultimately amount to much.

Still, I think we’ve seen enough interest here to make this fly, meaning that I feel past that fear of what happens if you have a party and no one comes.  There’s enough “there there” for us to make a go of this, I think.

I’m interested in seeing what comes of this first proposal phase and the next pre-(un)conference phase of course, not to mention the actually f2f meeting in October. But at this moment, I’m mostly interested in seeing if it is possible for the free and quasi-impromptu (un)conference to succeed.  Remember:  this is costing us and participants (in theory) nothing, which puts into stark relief those many conferences out there that cost lots and lots of money.  And that also seem to be the same old conference.

So like I said, stay tuned.  But in the meantime, submit a proposal if you are in the SE Michigan neighborhood.