Goodbye, kind of

By Marc Baer

Most of you know that after a wonderful 33 years teaching at Hope and an especially delightful 6 years chairing the History department, as of June 30 I will have retired; professor emeritus will be my title. (I looked up emeritus: it’s Latin for “out of merit,” which seems about right for me).

But many of you probably don’t know that I will have had the shortest retirement in history. I retire as professor and chair on June 30. Today I start work as interim Dean for the Arts and Humanities at Hope. Wait, you say, you can’t do math: you’re starting a new job BEFORE you retire from the old one. My answer: I’m a history major; I don’t do math. 🙂

we-are-the-baerTo be serious for just a moment, I’ve had a wonderful sendoff. Students in the last 2 classes I will have taught—Introduction to Modern European History and British and Irish History since 1700—said some nice things; some conspirators organized a mass tee-shirt event as part of our department’s end of the year celebration/appetizer challenge (which, by the way, I lost for like the 10th time in a row); and my colleagues had a lovely dinner event for me, complete with great presents. So I’m feeling very honored.

Plan A had been give away my books and move out of my office (happened), a bucket list trip to Banff (still happening, next month), serving as one of the faculty advisors for Mortar Board (still happening), and volunteering as a mentor for Upward Bound students (probably postponed for a year).

Plan B is to move 2 floors down to the dean’s office (happened today) and spend 13 months managing 9 departments and 4 programs. I’ll have a lot to learn, including what it means to change calling, from serving students to serving others who serve students.

What I’ll miss the most is the close relationship with the extraordinary students I’ve worked with over my time at Hope—as fellow researchers on book or article projects, as teaching assistants, as mentees in the Pew Society (now Klesis), as advisor but particularly as friends. When I’m asked what has brought me joy in my work it’s that.

So, I’m moving on (actually down, from Lubbers 329 to Lubbers 124—please stop by if you’re on campus), and beginning a 13-month adventure. After which, I really will retire. I mean it this time—maybe.

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