The week before Thanksgiving, my application for an AY2010-11 sabbatical was approved. Assuming the Illinois budget crisis doesn’t undo it all, I’ll be at half salary for that year, with continued benefits (huge; having to pay health care would have been a deal-breaker). Here’s what Erin and I are planning.
I’ll be out of the classroom from May 19, 2010 to August 17, 2011. 457 days. Fifteen months. Obviously my focus will be research, continuing my interests in standardization and protocol, especially as they apply to web sites in English studies. Last Saturday I had coffee with Geoff Sauer and we talked about some very good possibilities in that regard. I’ll also return to ease, the focus of my dissertation work and never far from my mind since that time. In terms of deliverables, that means making articles out of five conference presentations I’ve given in the past year or so, and finishing enough of a book manuscript to write a book proposal. For the specifics, here’s my sabbatical proposal (as a PDF).
On the financial side, I’ve written several small grant applications, a mix of internal (WIU) and external sources, with a few more in the works. This week I met with WIU’s research support staff and built a profile in their grant-searching service. So I hope to diversify this list soon. For now:
- WIU Foundation Summer Research Stipend (applied for and received; $3,500)
- Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) Research Grant (deadline Jan 1, 2010; $1,000)
- American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Peterson and/or Legacy Fellowships (deadline Jan 15, 2010; $3,400)
- CAS Faculty Mentor Program (deadline early Spring 2010; $3,000)
- WIU University Research Council grant (deadline April 6, 2010; $5,000)
On the long term, I hope to use these grants to work my way into a larger grant opportunity, such as an NEH Digital Humanities Startup or an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship. It’s possible I’ll apply for the NEH-DHS this year, but I don’t want to rush it.
Even if I get all those grants, that won’t make up the salary differential, given that some can’t be used in that manner anyway. So Erin and I have been saving diligently and will continue to do so. If we must, we’ll break out the MasterCard, then start talking about a home equity loan. And I don’t see that as a big deal. Who knows when or if this chance will come for me again?
On the family side, Amelia will be nineteen months old at the start, and two years nine months at the end. So she’ll still be in diapers for most of this time, but not all of it. Madelyn will start kindergarten when my sabbatical ends in August 2011. (!!!) Erin and I are planning to travel some, of course. We’ll mix recreation-only travel with longer stays in places where I can get away during the week to read and write. I expect we’ll do one international trip–somewhere we can speak Spanish (or try to) and let the girls do the same. Maybe Peru, Argentina, and Chile, or Spain. We’ll get around the USA quite a bit. It’s looking like Colorado and the Four Corners will be our first trip, in May and June (Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, etc). If I get the AAS, we’ll be in the Boston area at least a month. Erin wants to spend a month or so in a Cascadian city, since she and I have friends in Portland, Seattle, and I have a very generous offer to visit from a friend who lives near Spokane. I’d like to spend a month on a lake in the upper Midwest, be it Lake Superior or one of the many smaller lakes in Michigan, Minnesota, or Wisconsin. And of course we’lll get to Florida to see family.
I can’t say how much I’m looking forward to May 19. Not that I dislike teaching or the service I do in English & Journalism. I don’t, in any way. But how remarkable it will be to have this time for myself and my girls.