By Amanda Thomas, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs
Advent and Christmas are favorite times of the year for me, even though I am a Southerner and think 49 degrees is frigid. I enjoy the cards, the decorations, the music, the parties, and spending time with friends and family. As a Christian, I believe it is a very sacred time of year, full of anticipation and joy in the birth of Jesus. In other words, I try, in the midst of shopping and busyness, to keep Christ at the center of my Christmas celebrations.
On the other hand, the end of the semester has never been my favorite time of year. As Dr. Sue Abromaitis said to me years ago, “Amanda, we get paid to grade and the rest is fun.” When I repeated this to Dr. Tom Pegram and Dr. Kevin Hula this week, they begged to differ because in their view, Academic Senate meetings go on the same list as grading. They are probably right. In any case, the end of the semester vacillates between busy and, as some call it, “crazy busy.” Students and faculty members alike often say to me “I might not get it all done” to which I say “You will; you always do.” After the supreme effort of studying, writing, and grading, it is good to remember that the academic calendar includes breaks: breaks from preparing and going to classes, completing and grading assignments, and attending meetings. I encourage all of my colleagues, whatever your faith tradition may be, to take advantage of the winter break to make space for what is sacred and/or restorative to you, whether it be a particular seasonal family activity, lunch with friends, catching up on those back issues of the New Yorker, re-watching the entire Harry Potter movie series, or volunteering at your favorite service site. Some of my best scholarship ideas and teaching innovations have come to me during these times of prayer, renewed connections, rest, relaxation, and recharging. I wish you a wonderful break and look forward to the spring semester