Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Beautiful day...

Woke up early and went into work. It's graduation weekend this weekend, and the campus is abuzz preparing for the event. As I drove by Dad's Gate there were 6 people out planting big flats of flowers. Others were powerwashing the sidewalks, pruning and weeding, and spreading bark. I always love this time of year, all the excitement and happiness. Families come together to celebrate a fantastic accomplishment that their son or daughter, niece or nephew. Often these accomplishments take years or even a lifetime to reach. Over the last few weeks I've repeatedly seen nervous students pacing the hallway outside our conference room. The culmination of a PhD is the defense, which happens in the weeks up before graduation. It is given after years and hyears of work and it can be the death of your dreams if you somehow blow it. Generally people don't, because by the time you are far enough along in a PhD program to do your defense you have proved yourself, but it still is a time of anxiety and then celebration.
This is a busy time in the offices. During the school year staff work Monday throught Friday, and are off at 5 without a second thought. This weekend though most everyone will be working out in the departments. They do it as much for the pleasure of seeing people complete their degrees and start their life as anything.
People always ask me if we have the summer off. The resounding answer is a big fat "NO". College goes on all year long. Faculty often take the summer off, but staff are still in the trenches. Working like I do in the dean's offices, we are barely effected by graduation or the end of the school year. Our biggest work season often is spring and summer. We start preparing for the 'new year' which for us starts July 1 early in the spring and we continue with setup and adjustments right up till fall term.
I think the truth of the matter is that I really love school. I loved college - I loved learning, the smell of new books in the fall, the cycles that let you complete one set of tasks and move onto another. I loved the freedom of learning about whatever you wanted, stretching your imagination and finding out you could do things you never imagined. I still love that as that is a large part of my job. I may not be developing a cure for cancer or writing the next great novel, but I'm allowed a level of freedom and creativity in my job that would never occur in most standard corporate positions. Universities are full of bright people and lots of energy. They can get stuck in 'how we have alway done it' but often you find innovative people who are dedicated to doing things for something besides money. (Lord knows you don't work there for the cash, private industry would pay so much better for most PhDs and even a lot of Masters and Bachelors degree holders.)
The other thing about universities is that they are really beautiful. The buildings are often old and protected by historic preservation. There are plans to maintain green spaces, and the landscaping is gorgeous. The tree outside my window is almost 100 years old. I work in a building that is 120 years old. There is something great about being a part of something so much bigger.
Ok, enough ode to work for one day. Have a fantastic evening!

1 comment:

Robin said...

Reading that makes me want to go back to college, at least for a while...