September 21 Day 562: Retreating to Advance

At UW Tacoma, the week before classes start is always full of academic program retreats. Today was the School for Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences Faculty. Tomorrow is the Mathematics Faculty. Friday is the Science and Mathematics Division Faculty.

The retreats are being held on Zoom. I have mixed feelings about that. We are expected to meet with our students in person, starting next Wednesday—but we are not ready to meet with our professional colleagues in person. Just think about that for a minute. Yes there is a vaccine mandate, but who do you trust more to be following it? Fellow faculty members or your students?

…Yeah. That’s what I thought too.

But enough negativity. Honestly, the retreat focused on community building. And that is good. So thank you to Chris Demaske and all the UWT faculty and staff that helped make that happen.

UWT is beginning a(nother) transition. Our brand new Chancellor has been on the job for a few days and there are many ‘interim’ positions from the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs to the Dean of SIAS. There are even a few positions that are still seeking ‘interims.’ We are definitely in a holding pattern—no sweeping changes or campus mandates—until a more stable leadership has been identified. So today, we got to focus on each other as human beings.

The recent climate survey pointed to a toxic work environment. I can attest that it exists but deep in my heart, I hope that the 18 month break we have taken from one another can heal past wounds and we are just happy to be together. If you will allow, let’s start with a clean slate, forgive past offenses, and build an inclusive campus that supports faculty, staff & student growth and health. I realize this may be too optimistic but please, let me dream about it for just one night.

And for the brave few, there was even an after-party on campus on the Zeek’s terrace. It was so good to see familiar, smiling faces. Here’s hoping for a positive and productive AY2021-22.

I took the picture in the cover image September 2014, when the IAS retreat was on the stage at the Theater on the Square. We had outgrown the spaces on campus and needed a bigger venue. I was coming off of a sabbatical when I started my labor of love, mentioned in the previous post.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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