July 28, 2021 11:47 AM

The Normal Meets the New Normal, Sort Of

Monday, I spent a full day at the office. It was my most normal day on campus in 16 months. The university held a visit day for prospective students and their parents, with a large gathering followed by break-out sessions with individual departments. In the afternoon, I interviewed a candidate for a secretary position in our department. Both were fully in person, with no extra distance built into the process.

Scattered among those events were typical online stuff that department heads do. A first-year student I worked with at orientation last month wanted to add marching band to his schedule, so I helped by moving several courses around for him. I evaluated courses from another university for someone who is thinking about transferring here, and then answered several questions from the student in email.

There was also one "new normal" sort of thing: a Zoom meeting with a colleague about possible exchange programs in China and Kosovo. We've learned a lot about working online over the last two years. One valuable lesson is that some meetings are much better done online. When I was a few minutes late, my colleague sat comfortably in her office, working away happily. On a 90-degree day, not having to walk across campus to a meeting is a win.

One sorta new normal thing for me: I'm still wearing a mask while indoors with people and maintaining a bit more distance than usual. We have one month before fall classes begin, fully in person, with no extra distance built into the process. After sixteen months of being careful and staying healthy, this seems like a goofy time to lower my guard more than necessary and catch the virus. (Yes, I'm fully vaccinated.)

You may notice what I didn't mention about Monday: no teaching, no computer science. The same happened Tuesday, which included another campus visit day, another Zoom meeting, and plenty of online file shuffling. One of the side effects of the last couple of years is an expansion of administrative work in the summers. Working with students and recruiting are important as we look to bounce back from low enrollments last year.

The good news is that there is still time left this summer. I did some CS last week, designing a new source language for my compiler course this fall. It was the most fun I've had all summer. This week I'm going to write some code and prep more for class. With any luck, I'll write about that soon, and not go more than two months between posts again!

Posted by Eugene Wallingford | Permalink | Categories: Personal