Row 1: Casey Bourland, Suzan Phenicie, Christine Metoyer.
Row 2: Carson, Kevin Sivils, Gabe Malouf.
Here is the department of history and social science at Houston Christian; we seem to be off to a great start, though a bit slow with the number of campus retreats taking place. As I have stated before, we all get alone well. Metoyer’s leadership as department head has been great for us. We are very academic and take what we do seriously. In an unusual fashion for a history department, we tend to lean to the right of the ideological spectrum; I am easily the most liberal seeing that I advocate for a number of things my conservative colleagues see as too leftist. Though she does not wear her politics as much as the rest, I suspect Metoyer is not too far from me on this topic. I value this group tremendously. When I had a brain tumor last spring and needed to miss time on campus, they covered my classes, graded my essays, and brought food by the house. It is always great to work with people you respect intellectually, but also professionally. I can easily say that is not always the case. This is why in many ways I have so few job options. People seem to think that I can get a job at any school, but that is not true. My standards as to where I work are pretty high. I guess I would look for the following:
- Is the department cohesive and very academic?
- Are expectations for faculty members high in that they see themselves not as elites, but as leaders in their field or their community?
- What opportunities exist for members to advance their academic interest beyond the confines of campus?
- Are they smart?
- Relatively speaking, can I trust them and can they trust me?
- Are they interested in my work?
These are just a few things I have found to be important. I am excited about our travels this year. One such trip includes a campus visit to any independent school with a history department we deem of value. The idea of course is for us to evaluate the best department in the nation and see what we can learn and take back with us. Because of my research on independent schools, I will create a list of schools I believe to have the top teachers and scholars. This is relative of course. There are so many great departments. I will draft a list from the needs of the department. I am sure Exeter will be on that list. Plus, if we visit Exeter, it will be my second trip there this year. And, I get to hang with Mrs. Chili — twice.