In October, I will be returning to WMU because I've been nominated for an alumni achievement award. It's a somewhat strange feeling, in part because my path is not what one would consider typical success in academia. Many academics believe that accepting a non-tenure-system appointment is to have "failed": to simply sink to the bottom of what John Perry called the academic trough never to return. But it's also just weird to be have reached the point where I feel like I'm starting to look back more than looking forward.
There are a series of events over the weekend. On Friday, I'll give a talk to the current students. The title of my talk is But what will the students do? Technology & Student-Centered Learning. And then there's a banquet, a reception, and a ceremony for a college level award. And for Saturday, they offered tickets to go to a Broncos game—they're playing the University of Akron—with a tailgating party beforehand.
I declined to attend the game. I've gone on record on campus as an opponent of football due to the growing evidence that it inevitably causes traumatic brain injuries. I did point out, however, that even the Minutemen defeated Akron one year when that was their single victory, which made me think the game might be good if someone liked one-sided contests. But I expressed some curiosity about the tailgate party.
"I'd be happy to learn more about tailgating," I wrote. "It is like a cookout with beer?"
"Unfortunately, no beer," she replied. "It starts at about 12:30 and each of the colleges have a tent, and you can go from one to another. Food, beverages, and activities will ensue! The Arts and Sciences theme for their tent is Casino night, so it should be lots of fun. Not sure what the other college have. I'm not sure yet if a faculty member will attend with you or not, we're still working out some details."
"What?" I replied "Well, then, I've been tragically misinformed about the definition of tailgating. Someone should correct wikipedia!"
But I admitted I was just kidding. Mostly.