On Campus

We interrupt this blog for… giving thanks?

There’s a lot to be grateful for in academic life.

Loyal readers of this blog (we few, we happy few!) will know that university life sometimes finds me frustrated, if not outraged. But actually, on most days, I love being a professor. On this day of thanks giving, I hope it is not too maudlin if I express my gratitude to some of those who make it worthwhile.

First, I am grateful to the country as a whole. Most people have a modest if not passing idea of what happens at a university, and yet, I think, most understand that it is worth spending tens of millions of dollars of public money to maintain even a small university. For this expression of faith, and this outlay of scarce resources, I am profoundly grateful.

Second, I am grateful to all the students who take their education seriously, and though they are not always in the majority, new ones turn up every year. The student who rushed to my office to tell me she had just got the “Cask of Amontillado” reference in The Simpsons; the student who got a 56 on her first paper and put it up on her fridge at home, proud that she had passed her first university assignment; the student who got 40-something on her initial paper and, determined to do better, did better on every assignment until she got 80-something on the last one; the students who take the time to tell me, when they graduate, that, in some small way, I have helped inspire them. To all these and many more, I am profoundly grateful.

I am also grateful to the scholars who created the medieval universities in the first place, and the tens of thousands since who have maintained one of the world’s most beautiful ideas: that there should be at least one institution in any society where men and women of intelligence can come together to consider solutions our most important problems. I am proud to be just one guardian of that long and vital tradition, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

The Hour Hand will return to its customary ironic position later this week.

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