“True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for a while. Even after years apart, you pick up with them right where you left off.”
It occurs to me, on this last day of 2014, that blogs are like true friends: you can pick right up with them where you left off. Thus, I have absolutely no doubt at all in my mind that you—dear Reader—will recall my last post on June 30: “A Correction to Alexander Gordon’s Canon, 256 Years after a Mistake Was Made.” How could you not recall the juicy research conundrum that I faced? It is not often that a scholar has the opportunity to set the record straight so many years after the fact! But with my own dogged persistence and with the gracious help of Fiona Keates (Archivist, Modern Records, The Royal Society), I did just that. So what if the document I had considered “the ace up my sleeve” in my present research turned out to have been written not by MY Alexander Gordon but rather by Dr. Alexander Garden, a well-known Scottish physician, botanist, and zoologist who came to South Carolina in 1752 where he collected flora and fauna and sent them to Carolus Linnaeus—the father of modern taxonomy. I was joyed to be able to set the record straight. Doing so makes research all the more fun and all the more memorable!
In fact, I was so excited by my discovery—so excited by my opportunity to set the record straight—that even though the post was dated June 30, 2014, I totally forgot that the date marked the official end of my 2012-2014 Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship! (The professorship appointment ran from the start of fiscal 2012 to the end of fiscal 2014.)
I remembered, of course, the very next day, but I decided that even though the “official” professorship was over, nothing at all could keep me from being a “Virtual Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor,” virtually forever—and so I shall continue to be—just as nothing at all could keep my blog from continuing, virtually forever—and, so, it, too, shall continue to be!
Wait—just wait—until you read my next few posts. I have in my possession copies of critical Alexander Gordon manuscripts obtained from libraries in Scotland and England. Although I have had the packages for several months, I have not opened them yet because I know that the contents will take my Humourist research to new heights, and I have had neither time nor nerve to make the journey.
However, January 2015 will place me exactly where I need to be in terms of time and nerve to open the packages, review the manuscripts, and share my findings with you, right here in this blog.
But I digress. If I had realized that June 30 marked the official end of my 2012-2014 Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship, I would have given three special shout-outs! And so I will seize today, this last day of 2014, as the perfect opportunity to do so.
A Special Shout-Out to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS)!
I cannot begin to tell anyone how grateful I am to have been a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor for the last two years. The experience has been rich and rewarding and energizing beyond belief. What a phenomenal opportunity this has been for me.
Whoever said that “opportunity never knocks twice” needs to come to the Virginia Community College System because it was here, as a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor, that I have had the opportunity—the second chance, if you will—to be the student who took Professor Leo Lemay’s idea and ran with it. It was here in the Virginia Community College System that I have had the opportunity to be the student who edited and published The Humourist essays, ensuring that they will take their rightful place in the American literary canon. And it was here in the Virginia Community College System that I have had the opportunity to use my “close reading strategies” to solve the Colonial Charleston’s biggest literary mystery—to identify the author of The Humourist essays as Alexander Gordon, Clerk of His Majesty’s Council.
However, of even greater importance to me than this professional development opportunity is my ongoing work as an educator in the Virginia Community College System. How awesome it is to be engaged in changing lives—one student at a time—through education. This year alone, the Virginia Community System has served 273,026 students. How glorious that we, as educators, have the opportunity not only to shape and transform so many lives but also, through our students, to shape and transform tomorrow and the future.
A Special Shout-Out to Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC)!
I owe a special debt to Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy (President, LFCC), Dr. Christopher Coutts (Vice President of Academic and Students Affairs, LFCC), and Dr. Morgan Phenix (former Dean, Division of Humanities, Math and Social Sciences, LFCC). All three heartily endorsed my application for a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship and all three have allowed me to share with them not only my passion and excitement about teaching and research but also my passion and excitement about my work on The Humourist. Their endorsement and ongoing support mean the world to me.
However, my gratitude to Lord Fairfax Community College goes far beyond my being a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor. As far back as the third grade, I wanted to be an educator—a college professor. And, in 1998–after a glorious twenty-five year career at the Library of Congress—the VCCS and LFCC made my childhood dream a reality. I do not know of anywhere else on earth where I could have fared better. Simply put, LFCC is my family.
A Special Shout-Out to My Students at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC)!
I have no doubt whatsoever that I have the best and brightest students in the entire world! I wake up every morning thinking about teaching and thinking about my students, and I go to bed every evening—still thinking about teaching, still thinking about my students.
Simply put, my students come first. I teach, for them. For their good, I am demanding. I want to stretch them intellectually, and I do so without apology. For their good, I want them to feel comfortable expressing themselves, and I accept them. My goal is to help them succeed–personally, professionally, and spiritually. I want them to enjoy success in their own lives and in their professional worlds. I share with them their joys, and I stand as their heartiest cheerleader, helping them appreciate joy’s height and brevity. I share with them their sorrows and disappointments, and I like to feel that I am one of their most sincere consolers, helping them realize that even in the face of sorrow and disappointment can come growth.
I am eternally grateful to my students at LFCC, who, every day, give me one more chance to do it better—who, every day, give me one more chance to get it right; who, every day, let me be, me; and, who, every day, let me be a part of the magic that is happening in their lives.
How richly blessed I am!