the countdown to retirement begins

The first day of the fall semester on August 23 meant the countdown to a major life change had begun. I’ve decided to retire next May after teaching at Indiana University Southeast since 2005. So the start of classes also started the stopwatch hand sweeping across my last academic year teaching full time.

I agonized over this decision for probably a year and a half. Could I afford it? Was I ready to let go of the classroom, which I love?

But the classroom isn’t the problem. It’s partly the institution, as being a full-time faculty has become more and more a position that’s “managed” by administration. Endless piling on of policies and procedures, electronic paperwork, online this and online that, turns teaching into a never-ending chore.

Then there’s departmental politics. Chances are that if you’re in academia, you know someone or *are* someone plagued with the feeling of not being supported, of not fitting in, of reaching a career dead end, perhaps of even being the victim of conspiracies to hinder your work or advancement.

The worst of that is now years behind me. Turnover means new faculty replaced the assholes who tormented me. Nevertheless, my career, as well as the department, continues to stagnate in many ways, despite the heroic work of a few dedicated faculty who still have energy and motivation. I admire them.

Other stagnations as well: a grossly underfunded state institution with years of budget crises, dropping enrollment, and no raises tops that list.

It turns out many other faculty are retiring too, a mini exodus of those who probably also just see more of the same ahead, are ready to call it a career, and move on.

Still, I will miss the classroom, and probably will try to find occasional part time teaching. There’s always room for underpaid adjunct faculty somewhere. The pay is so low it shouldn’t affect my social security check, while offering me some enjoyment, and providing petty cash for the cookie jar.

And who knows, a busy home life and the limitations of my severe ADD notwithstanding, maybe, just maybe, I’ll find some time, and desire, to write fiction and poetry again.

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