Reflections on the year in higher education 2019: Part 1

It's December 30, 2019. I know that many colleagues will either be submitting the last of their Fall Term grades, or casting their minds forward to their Winter Term teaching. I'm in the latter group. I hope that student members of the academic community are resting, having fun and catching up on their sleep, and that the dedicated administration staff are simply not giving a thought to the university.

University Affairs webpage on Monday 30th December 2019

Elsewhere, higher education publications like Britain's The Times Higher Education Magazine, which I still think of as the Times Higher Ed Supplement, Canada's University Affairs Magazine, and the excellent, The Conversation platforms from around the world, are releasing both their year-in-review, and decade-in-review feature articles.

At the Rise of Skywalker in 2019 my first two graduate students, Dr. Saewan Koh (centre) and Dr. Mark Vicari (right)

I'm taking a breather by getting back to work after a hectic week of socializing that included celebrating of Christmas, my younger daughter's 22nd birthday, and my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. One of the past week's most fun events was an impromptu lab. reunion with my first ever two graduate students, pictured right.

We went to see the latest Star Wars movie with Mark's family, including his high school daughter's boyfriend, which made me feel very old. I have two daughters who have both finished their time as undergraduates, and this doesn't make me feel old, but, for some reason, meeting the "boyfriend" who was very nice, did!

Which is to say, that as I ponder all the work on my plate for the university winter holidays closure, I'm also taking time to reflect back, not only on 2019, but also on the past decade (Part 2), and thanks to seeing Mark and Saewan, the past 30 years of my career as a tenure-track and tenured professor (Part 3).

Some thoughts on my academic time-line: 2019

The past year was so hectic for me, that December 30, 2018 feels like yesterday. I last posted on this blog in June 2019, because I simply didn't have time to finish writing any of my many draft posts.

But, I don't regret my loopy 2019 work schedule, except, for two academic service balls that I seriously dropped. In addition to finishing these two long overdue tasks, I will be making many profuse apologies early in 2020.

Readers of this blog will know that a back-injury side-lined me for much of 2015. I was carefully examining the long-term disability provisions for York University faculty. In 2019, I was grateful to have been able to take on all of this work, since much of it was institution-building and public science service-related. I recently tweeted about how this kind of work should be done by senior academics.

As well, I was relieved to finally pick up many dropped threads from 2015. My dad is a perennial starter of projects but a very poor finisher, so I've grown up being obsessed with finishing things that I have started, even if it takes me years.

After having regained my ability to sit without pain, and then becoming the person in the back of the plane doing yoga and pilates stretches to survive the trip, I was able to travel so much in 2019 that, to my horror, I actually invested in packing cubes. Since I aim to limit travel to curb my carbon footprint, none of these trips were undertaken lightly. Another post in my 2019 catch-up will cover Greenhouse Gas & Carbon emissions offsets, but in the meantime, please see my 2018 post for the Monkeys and Mountains Travel Website.