Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Bob is headed to Florida to visit his folks. I am remembering with some discomfort the last time he flew somewhere without me; it was September 9, 2001 and he went to Baltimore.

Maybe because of the Columbia and the focus of this week's Tuesday Too, I am remembering that I was awakened on 9/11 by the telephone. My mother called to tell me "terrorists have attacked New York City." I switched on the television and sat on the coffee table right in front of it, only inches away, transfixed. I can't remember going downstairs to get coffee. Or even to pee. I sat there for hours, maybe it was all day. Swirling around somewhere in my mind was that Bob was flying home. Several hours passed before he could call to let me know that he was OK, and would manage to get home at some (unknown) point in some (unknown) way. Several hours seemed like several days. Even with that happy news my horror was not diminished. Still isn't.

Although it is I who has always had dogs, insists on having dogs, and I got our two dogs at the pound, only Edna, our cat, favors me. Both dogs that we have now prefer Bob. Rudy's sentiment is not overwhelming, though; he can be happy with just me around. Sophie, on the other hand, worships Bob. She is sitting on the couch right now, her eyes glued to the window, waiting for him to come home. She waits for him every day, starting at about 6 p.m. I wonder if she will sit there, patiently staring at the empty spot where his car is usually parked, until he returns on Monday. There is nothing sadder than a sad hound dog.

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education has a cover story about the University at Albany, SUNY. It is by Sara Hebel and is entitled, "If You Build It, They Will Come: How SUNY-Albany shocked the research world and reaped a bonanza worth $850-million (and counting)." It has to do with Sematech and nanoscience research. The Chronicle is a subscription site, and this story is not part of their free content. I am clueless about nanoscience, and I'm far from an advocate of growth, which I fear will lead to sprawl, and I consider that a major risk of economic boom. However, seeing the cover story focus on the University and Albany made me feel good about being associated with both places.

I've spent a lot of years in higher education, more than 10 as an administrator, about three as an instructor, 22 as an on and off student. 100% in the public sector, I might add. If I collected a dollar for every time someone sniffed about his or her pedigree (and by implication, my lack of), I could afford the tuition at - well, you can fill in the blank. X = prestigious private well-endowed institution of higher learning. Those places where the graduates and faculty are entitled. And yes, cut from a finer cloth. Certainly smarter than the daughters and sons of Joe and Mary Six-Pack, first-generation students at those provincial, remedial, non-global places, you know - Local CC or State U.

So yeah, it felt good to see the splash. That's my alma mater (so what if it isn't my specialty?). That's where I work (so what if it isn't my department?). Finally, an article about something besides budget cuts and party school status. Validation, at last. You see, all those wrinkled noses, raised eyebrows, and rigid pinkies have never seemed anything but dull. In the article, a Stanford University professor is quoted: "for a mediocre university to start thinking of doing research for industry is probably not the wisest idea." If saying such a thing to a reporter demonstrates brains, I guess tact is an attribute of stupid people. The article explains that SUNY officials shrug off the criticism as "sour grapes."

Well, I don't like to gloat, but yeah. This is real sweet.

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