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Teaching at Your Alma Mater

This blog post appearing at the top of my feed is a fairly serendipitous occurrence, as I’m about to start my first year teaching at my Alma Mater in two days! While my layoff has been slightly shorter than Prof. Cheatham’s, and many of my former faculty are in new places or have since retired, many of his comments strike a chord. Teaching elsewhere for eight years was a terrific experience and helped me gain an independent sense of myself as a professional and scholar – characteristics that allow me to approach my new position with a professional confidence and an absence of selective nostalgia. Nevertheless, rejoining at my Alma Mater is an exciting development and I’m eager to get the year, and this next part of my career, underway.

Twenty years ago, I started my freshman year at Cumberland University. Sixteen years later, I returned to take a faculty position.

Teaching at your alma mater can be difficult. Former professors become your colleagues, and you have to overcome the reluctance to challenge or contradict your mentors. You also have to confront suspicions about academic “incest” from outsiders.

For me, the experience has been mostly positive. I chose Cumberland as my undergraduate institution because of the small classes and the old buildings. Like me, many of our students are drawn to former. (There are no data for the latter, as far as I know.) It’s good to be able to pass students in the hallway, on campus, or in town, and be able to recognize faces and (usually) remember names. While a small campus community can be like a small town when it comes to gossip, I think the closeness…

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One thought on “Teaching at Your Alma Mater

  1. Alaina says:

    Hey Nate. This is your cousin Alaina. I have recently been taking somewhat of a break from school and I figured that this fall would be a good time to do some research on our ancestry. Anyways, I found an interesting link about an ancestor and hotel keeper named Harry Pearce. I was wondering if you might be interested in researching that side of the family or could offer some insight based on what it says in the following link. http://books.google.com/books?id=4IDdaF-3HBsC&pg=PA494&lpg=PA494&dq=harry+pearce+sarah+slack+pennsylvania&source=bl&ots=4G-4ubKWY-&sig=wTPKdlK0IzrLSHfh3XV3-zOFmmc&hl=en#v=onepage&q=harry%20pearce%20sarah%20slack%20pennsylvania&f=false

    I found another link which seems to indicate that one of Sam’s ancestors had a brother who was president at Princeton. Of course, when living in Ohio, I located much of my information in various libraries. But I am not sure that there is a way to make as much progress here in Arizona without access to hard-copy records. Years ago, I payed for access to records on ancestry.com and this impressed me as rather useless. (On the ancestry.com website, I located the census records and immigration records for a couple of my dad’s ancestors, but those were the only official records I located on that site. At least back then, it seemed like the free sections of the site were actually more valuable than the other sections. This is explained by the fact that the former sections allowed me to connect with a couple cousins who had already done research. However, I think these areas or sections were also somewhat limited as far as accuracy, etc).

    But anyways, I figured it would be interesting to get your take.

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