They say every day is a great day to be a Wildcat, but today is an especially great day for me. I am so excited to announce that I’ve accepted a two-year appointment as a visiting faculty member in the Department of Educational Studies at my alma mater, Davidson College.
Davidson is a place close to my heart. My mother has worked there since the late 1980s, and still works there as the Associate Dean for Academic Administration. My grandfather received his honorary doctorate from Davidson while serving as the Minister of the Davidson United Methodist Church there in the 1960s. I grew up watching Davidson Basketball and going to Theatre performances on campus. I got my first job there (summer camp counselor) and my first full-time job in higher education there (Admission Counselor). I graduated with honors in Political Science from Davidson in 2010. Most importantly, I met my wonderful now-wife Michele in Professora Lola Santamaria’s Intro Spanish Class at Davidson in the spring of 2007. I never thought in a million years that I would have the opportunity to become a professor at Davidson; I’m simply thrilled.
At Davidson, I’ll be joining a stellar department that includes Hilton Kelly, Rick Gay, and Rebeca Fernández. All care deeply about democratic education, and, for a small department, they sure punch above their weight class. I know that I will be joining a team that will still teach me so much, but to which I can contribute from day one.
One of the hardest parts about the job search process this year was the “two-body” problem – my wife and I are both trying to build our careers. Michele is a fantastic attorney. She does important medical licensure, healthcare, and mental health work in major medical centers and university hospitals. She is really good at her job and has already made a name for herself in the Nashville community. In fact, she was recently selected for a prestigious legal fellowship by the Nashville Bar Association and has taught several courses on conservatorship for the Tennessee Bar Association’s continuing legal education program.
I could never ask Michele to sacrifice her job or put her career on hold – especially for only a two-year position; so, Michele will stay in Nashville and I will commute between Davidson College, NC and Davidson County, TN with regularity. Luckily Southwest and American Airlines both provide cheap, direct flights from Nashville to Charlotte – seriously… Southwest has one-way flights for $89! The flights are so short that, due to the time change, the times printed on boarding passes make it look like the plane lands in Nashville only a few minutes after it took off in Charlotte. It will not be fun to have a commuting marriage, but the short distance (as the crow flies) will make it as bearable as possible. Michele can continue her meteoric rise in Nashville and I can grade papers on the plane.
Speaking of grading papers, I am slated to teach two courses in the Fall. The first is an Introduction to Education Policy course aimed at first-year students and sophomores; the second is an upper-level seminar on the Politics of Education Policy. In the intro course we’ll cover theories of the policy process and education policy issues spanning the P-20 spectrum including, but not limited to, universal Pre-K, charter schools, and issues of access and success in higher education. I’ve taught or been part of the teaching team for a course with a broader scope at both Vanderbilt and Duke, and am excited to continue that work at Davidson. The Politics of Education Policy seminar will be a completely new challenge for me! We’ll cover all the hot-button issues in education such as school shootings, sexual assault on college campuses, student unionization, and many others. I’ll draw on my own research on lobbying in higher education while also exposing my students to the greats! It’ll be a wild ride.
One of the reasons I am where I am today is that Davidson professors took an interest in me and mentored me. Hansford Epes and Jeanne Neumann taught me how to write. Sharon Green and Hilton Kelly taught me how to link scholarship and community action. Anne Blue Wills, Susan Roberts, and especially Pat Sellers encouraged me to write an honors thesis – a decision that set in motion a series of events that led me to pursue a Ph.D. My hope is that I can “pay it forward” for the next generation of Davidson students.
For now, I have to finish and defend my dissertation. I should set a date very soon and will keep you all abreast of my progress. I’m so very excited to end this chapter of my life and start the next one.
It’s a great day to be a Wildcat.