One of the myths about university faculty and administrator life is that summers are times of leisure.
The truth is that faculty are furiously working on their research and scholarship, either absorbing new information that pushes a research idea along, synthesizing information to build out their new products, or writing/producing the final scholarly products for dissemination to the larger world. Some of that work is off campus, in archives, research institutes, or laboratories away from DC. Administrators are planning new initiatives, working diligently on budget issues, and finalizing faculty recruiting. Mostly they’re still on campus.
This summer, much of the Provost Office attention is on cross-school and cross-campus initiatives. For example, we are proud to be working on the university initiative on Racial Justice, launching faculty searches for four founding members of the Georgetown Institute for Racial Justice, who will be tenured members of an academic unit as well as research professors in the Institute. This involves searches on all three campuses, in coordination with a university-level committee.
For me this summer seems over already. With each passing day, I notice more people walking across campus. Some are part of early prep programs at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Some programs start their formal classes in early August.
Workers on the facilities crews are furiously completing renovations in dormitories, bringing in newly purchased furniture, and preparing for the new occupants. The volume of rain we have had over the past few weeks have kept them busy, just repairing and protecting the campus buildings.
More and more faculty are around making final preparations for their fall courses. They’ve changed the mix of time spent on their research and time spent on teaching-related activities.
We’re preparing the programs for the new student convocations, both undergraduate and graduate. These involve large numbers of staff, all devoted to offering a sincere welcome to new members of our community. On the undergraduate side, dormitory move-in is only about two weeks away. This is a multi-day affair with a balloon-decorated campus, filled with upper-level students greeting the families of new students and helping them move their belongings into their new rooms. The level of energy is a stark contrast to the quieter days of the summer.
While I welcomed the quiet of a summer campus for a few weeks, it gets old pretty fast. The vibrancy of a university depends on the energy brought to it by the passion of faculty devoted to their field and the excitement of students in actively pursuing their formation as learners of new fields. This happens only when they’re together.
Over the past few days, as the foot traffic on campus increases, you can almost feel the ever-growing energy that makes a university a special place. They’ll all be back soon, and the magic will begin again.