Six years ago I began the weird and wonderful journey that has been an Assistant Professor & Statistician in the School of Computer Science at the University of Guelph. And if you’d told me then that this decision would lead me to where I am today, with a variety of research programs spanning computer science, statistics, ecological and public health risk assessment, food insecurity, community-engaged scholarship, pedagogy, and transdisciplinary education, I would have thought you mad.
I remember my first day on the job, wondering what that hell I was doing, thinking to myself you aren’t a Computer Scientist so this is likely going to be a disaster, and fully preparing for the day when someone would stop by my office and calmly announce that a mistake had been made, I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t where I belonged, please pack your things and quietly exit the premises.
But since those early days, I feel that I’ve found my home. That’s not to say that things are always rosy and wonderful, but more often than naught I find myself heading to work with a smile on my face and a collection of research questions, classroom engagement activities, or program ideas happily dancing around my head fighting for attention.
Sometimes it is rather dizzying and a bit overwhelming, but I also realize that it’s a privilege to be paid to think and dream and create, and to be given the space to pluck one of those ideas out of my head and then test and challenge it.
My job began as a contractually limited faculty position, co-sponsored by the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations. The contract was intended to last for 5 years, from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015. In June of 2015, however, my position was regularized – meaning that it became a permanent faculty position, and that I was officially a tenure-track faculty member.
As of Friday, January 20th, I was officially granted tenure. And more than that, as of July 1, 2017, I will be promoted from Assistant Professor1 to Associate Professor2. I officially learned that I was recommended for tenure and promotion in December, but wanted to wait until I received the formal letter from the President of the University before making my announcement.
I won’t lie, every time I look at the letter and read “you will be granted tenure, effective immediately, and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with effect from July 1, 2017”, I do a little bit of a happy dance and giggle to myself and shake my head because six years ago I had no idea what I was doing.
I’m not really sure I know what I’m doing yet.
But that’s okay, because I’ve learned that not knowing is half the fun.
1 Or in its shortened by me and more affectionately known by me form; Ass. Prof.
2 Which you’ll notice also shortens to Ass. Prof., but this version of Ass. Prof. is a promotion. As such, it needs to be distinguishable from its precursor Ass. Prof. Hence, the new Ass. Prof. will be Ass. Prof. of the 2nd Order to remove any and all confusion. Or to cause confusion. I’m not sure which.