Monday, March 10, 2014

What's Next? TSU

Joy and I are happy to announce that we will be moving to Stephenville, TX, this summer. I have been hired at Tarleton State University's Department of Accounting, Finance, and Economics. We are very excited about it, for many reasons.

I had a Skype interview with TSU in December. It was a remarkably comfortable and enjoyable interview. As I described how it went to Joy, she said that I would know where we were going next because the interview would feel like that. She didn't mean we were going to TSU necessarily, just that it would feel that way wherever we were going. One of the best parts was that they were willing to talk about a possible fly out interview before I left for Nigeria. That would make life a lot easier.

I had several good interviews at the economics conference in Philadelphia at the beginning of January - almost as good as TSU's - so I was happily optimistic about my prospects. I flew out to TSU the week before I went back to Nigeria and it was a very pleasant experience. I really liked the people I met. The town felt cozy. Some friends happened to be driving along the interstate and took an hour long detour to have dinner with me. It all just felt really good.

When I had flown to AUN three years ago to decide if I should accept their offer, I didn't feel cozy, but I felt welcome and I felt needed. At TSU I feel welcome, needed, and comfortable. That's a nice upgrade.

I returned to AUN in expectation that I would have to return to the States in early-mid February for other flyouts. It turned out there was no need. Just at the very moment I thought it was time to start worrying about why I hadn't heard back yet, TSU made me an offer which we were very happy to accept. We waited a few weeks before making this public announcement until we had a contract in hand.

The position is mostly teaching. I'm part of a fairly large group of people the business school is hiring to strengthen their research output and offerings. One of the funnier moments from my interview with them was when the mentioned the teaching load was 4-4 and they still expected research; was I comfortable with that idea? I responded that that's exactly what I've been doing at AUN, plus being department chair and other service responsibilities. I think this is the mix I'm looking for.

Several people at Tarleton mentioned that the college is like a family and they want to keep it that way. I contrasted that with another interview I had where they asked me how I dealt with difficult colleagues - sends a totally different signal, doesn't it? *lol*

Tarleton State is part of the A&M system. They have a strong agricultural section which will be very useful for my research and outreach, particularly since I've studied meatpacking. Now this is dairy country, not meatpacking, but they're not that far apart; the ag school even has a packing facility where they can hold classes.

At the moment we are planning to move out there in late July, though our son who will be born one month from now may have other ideas.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I read in ... the Book of Mormon title page

I love that, no matter how many times we have read the scriptures, there is always more to find and discover. Last night I read the title page to the Book of Mormon and found something new.

The title page was written by a guy named Moroni just before he buried the record for Joseph Smith to find 1400-some-odd years later. Its main job is to tell the reader what they are about to get themselves into: it's written to the house of Israel and the Gentiles so they know that Jesus is the Christ and that He will fulfill the covenants He made with the house of Israel. It also gives the world's briefest synopsis of the Book of Mormon story.

The new thing I saw came before all that. In that all-caps, serif font it says


I asked myself: What are the very first things Moroni, probably unconsciously, wants us to know?
1 - This is my dad's book. He wrote it. He physically wrote it with his own hand. I'm not going to take credit for my dad's life work.
2 - He wrote it on plates. The gold is irrelevant. It's just plates. Of course, if you're holding these plates right now, you kind of know that.
3 - Mormon, my dad, used sources. His primary source material came from other plate records we call the plates of Nephi.

In other words: MORMON AND MORONI CITE THEIR SOURCES!!! and that is the first thing they want us to know.

My number one single greatest complaint about the students at AUN is the constant plagiarism to which I am subjected and the neverending headaches and struggle I have trying to convince them that the quote-mark key is not their enemy. Here in the very first words of the Book of Mormon, we see the prophets taking care to cite their sources and give credit where it's due.

It flooded back to me how often Mormon mentions the plates he's working from, explaining that he isn't recording even 1% of it all, adding a whole section just to explain what he's copying and where these other plates came from, mentioning that the words he's about to write came from Alma's very own record, and evaluating the reliability of the sources (now if the guy who kept the records didn't make any mistakes, it was this year....).

I didn't weep, but that was beautiful to me. Mormon and Moroni cite their sources. Just one more reason why I love this book. :)