« February 2011 | Main | January 2012 »

June 30, 2011

an eventful spring

I had two campus job interviews, but neither turned into a job offer.

I felt like the favorite at the University of Tennessee at Martin, which was looking for a U.S. historian who could also teach East Asian history – the same mix MSSU was looking for when they hired me in 2008. The interview went well, the students were similar to MSSU’s (mostly first generation), the faculty members were collegial, and the campus was beautiful. At 11,000 people, the town was too small for us, though. We planned for an eventual primary home in artsy Paducah, Kentucky, 70 minutes north of Martin. We would have spent winter and summer vacations and occasional weekends in Paducah, until I retired from teaching. The other interview was at Morehouse College in Atlanta, one of the higher-ranked historically black colleges and universities and the only all-male HBCU. Actually, women from neighboring Spellman College are now able to enroll in Morehouse classes and vice versa. The most attractive features of this job would have been the highly motivated – and polite! – students, the urban living (nice lofts nearby are available at bargain prices, because of the recent pop in the latest real estate bubble), the dining opportunities, and the vibrant Jewish life. UTM chose someone else, and Morehouse cancelled its search. Soon afterward, MSSU finally gave me my fourth one-year contract offer. The Morehouse job, on balance, was very attractive, but staying in Joplin is not a bad option. By spring 2012, Terry and I hope to be able to make a final decision either to fully settle into our house in Joplin (e.g., outfitting it with bookshelves and unpacking all our books) or commit to somewhere else.

Terry had a pleasant “girls trip” to Taos with sisters Becky and Karen and stepmother Janet. They apparently indulged in lots of spa treatments, art shopping, and fine dining. Photos are available in the photo gallery.

The biggest event of the spring was the May tornado that destroyed 30 percent of Joplin, though thankfully not the Wheeler residence. It did, however, inspire us to plan upgrades to the shelter function of our basement and to develop a drill to take precious photos, etc. to the basement with us when the tornado alarm sounds.

In June, we went to Washington, DC, on a three-purpose trip. First, I presented a paper at the annual Society for the History of American Foreign Relations Conference. Second, we spent several days in Leesburg with Travis, Karen, Elliot, and Allison. They had just moved into a new house that they bought, and everyone seems happy with it. Third, we spent two days in the city visiting the Smithsonian’s American history and art museums. We also had a delicious Ethiopian lunch at Almaz and a socially delightful dinner with friends Bill Burr and Yale Richmond. Yale is a retired diplomat. At 88, he is incredibly active, e.g., working out several days a week. Bill is an old friend who also participated in the SHAFR conference, but we missed time together there because we were too busy resolving a hacked credit card.