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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Illinois Bound

Well, the word is getting around, so I may as well announce it here: I've accepted a position at Western Illinois University for the coming academic year. It's an offer we've accepted without fear, I think, but not without some doubt. That is, while we're committed to and happy about our decision, I'm not absolutely sure it's the "right" thing for us to do. After all, we could have stuck around Arkansas State for another year, to see how the search for a theorist in the department goes one more time, and enjoy the small but significant amount of comfort and security we've found for ourselves here in the meantime. As I said last month (and before), I've really come to feel at home here, to care a lot for the fine students and faculty I've been privileged to teach, work with, and learn from, and frankly my family and I (particularly Caitlyn, our five-year-old, whom we've come to realize over the last few days is taking our decision to move away from her friends pretty hard) really don't want to be in the position of chasing after a bunch of unknowns. Unfortunately, as of last month it became clear to us that there were far more unknowns still lurking around here than we had previously thought. So we looked around for some other one-year possibilities, to measure against the one remaining for us here. WIU made an offer, and after counting up all the respective arguments both for and against the move (which really just ended up just canceling each other out, as is so often the case), we came to the point that we simply needed to make a decision: stick with the unknowns immediately before us, or take a chance on those new unknowns over there? We made the latter choice, and feel good about it. Whether it'll get us what we want and hope for remains to be seen.

WIU is a state school located in Macomb, Illinois, about an hour from the Mississippi River, 90 minutes from both Peoria and Davenport, Iowa, and about 3 hours from both St. Louis and Chicago. It's farming country, like Jonesboro, but different crops: corn and soybean, mostly, rather than rice and cotton. It's small--about 20,000 people, and according to people I've spoken to in the department, that drops to under 10,000 during the summer. Melissa and I have done the small town thing before, but only in the South; we're looking forward to seeing how much different (or better, or worse) the experience will be in the Midwest. The move will take us back to the land of four full seasons, which is nice, and it will also get us closer to Melissa's family in Michigan. And I've liked, so far, the people I've spoken to there, and the classes I'm lined up to teach. Yes, I guess you could say we're excited--nervous, but excited. We've never lived in any one place longer than three years anyway (even our stay in Virginia while I was in graduate school was divided up by a couple of moves), so perhaps this is just some small part of our brains telling us it's time to move on. In any case, we'll be here until I complete my summer teaching (around the first week of August), and then we'll be Illinois bound. In the meantime, if any of you out there know anything that might help us prepare us for western Illinois--about parks, schools, food, weather, anything--we'd be delighted to hear from you.

Expect regular blogging--well, as regular as it ever gets around here--to resume tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I've been lurking here and at T&S, but rarely comment. I've been hoping you would explain what was going on.
My sister and her family live in Macomb. Her husband is the current bishop, and a professor at WIU, but should be getting released soon as they are moving this summer for Utah -- he just accepted a position at BYU. He has loved teaching at WIU (Communications dept.), and they have really enjoyed their time in Macomb.
My family and I have visited Macomb each Christmas and enjoyed our time there, though it's a little small for our taste. It's especially nice to be so close to Nauvoo and other church history sites. The ward there seemed quite friendly and many members seemed to be affilliated with the University. I'd be happy to provide contact information if you would like.
Good luck with the move -- I hope all works out well for you and your family.  

Posted by dan williams

Anonymous said...

I'm excited for you, Melissa and the girls! The students at WIU are the luckiest, I can assure them! I wish you the very, very best in life Professor. 

Posted by Julie

Anonymous said...

Best of luck, Russell! I'm sure it will all work out for the best... 

Posted by Chris Lawrence

Anonymous said...

I just saw the ASU listing on APSA jobs and figured you must have found something. May bailing out the cruelty of April! Congrats. 

Posted by djw

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! Very happy for you! 

Posted by Another Damned Medievalist

Anonymous said...

Hope everything works out for you and your family in the best way possible! 

Posted by Dianne

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the very best, Russell! 

Posted by Hugo Schwyzer