Frequent readers of this blog (all two of you) would have noticed the long hiatus I took while writing up my dissertation. Well, that’s done. Last weekend, my folks and my brother were in town, I had a bunch of people over for a beer, and we all celebrated the completion of my Ph.D. Now all I need is a job. In the mean time, I have these pretty pictures to look at. Bully for me!
My brother took some great pictures at the graduation ceremony. Here’s one from just after that in front of the building where my wife works.
We also took a few that morning before the festivities. It was good to see my folks again–it had been several years!
Jenn planned a fantastic party to which this cake was a popular addition.
Many friends joined us. Among them, here’s Dale Olsen. The Distinguished Professor Emeritus was one of the reasons I came to FSU, and I spent my first three years here working very closely with him. We shared many wonderful moments onstage and in conversation, and I’m glad to call Dale a friend.
We had so many friends there that day. Deep thanks to all for the warm congratulations. These are merely highlights from an unforgettable weekend.
Okay, so I’ve been teasing along with this for months now, dropping hints about a return trip to Uganda. At first it was simply hopeful (as in someday), but it’s been more than that for weeks now. The truth is, two weeks after I got back from the last trip, I received a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship. I haven’t exactly kept this a secret or anything. It’s just that this is a windfall that I had written off as so unlikely it would never happen. It’s humbling to know how many more deserving applicants could be out there.
One of those applicants comes from FSU’s beleaguered Anthropology Department. I claim Anthropology as a kind of disciplinary home away from home on campus, and I have great respect for their students and faculty. So it is with bittersweet admiration that I congratulate Bryan Rill. Bryan works on issues that are very close to home for me, and I can think of no more deserving candidate for this fellowship. Congratulations, Bryan. While we’re at it, congrats to your colleagues on three NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants. Maybe FSU will see fit to reconsider some if the more unfortunate budgetary decisions of the past few years in light of your achievements and those of the distinguished anthropology faculty. Maybe.
FSU has done well in the past few years with national and international fellowships at the undergraduate level, thanks in no small part to the Office of National Fellowships (ONF). There are, however, strong graduate students at FSU winning other awards. Jason Hobratschk in the College of Music and Victoria Penziner in the History Department both snagged Fulbright IIE grants this year. Kimberly Leahy is among 22 others to do the same since 1985, but it’s interesting to note that a disproportionately large number of those have come since the ONF opened. BTW, I’ve had the privilege of knowing both Jason and Vicky for a few years, and I know both of their projects will yield fascinating results.
These accomplishments and others across campus in the past few years have started to make FSU look more like a Carnegie Doctoral Research Institution, and it seems the university is starting to take that role seriously. After a tremendous success rate with the pilot of the ONF, The Graduate School announced the opening of a new Office for Graduate Fellowships and Awards (OGFA) this semester. It’s about time. ONF was really gracious about helping graduate students with fellowship applications (my own included), but even their staff recognized a major gap between their own undergraduate focus and the faculty-only nature of the Office of Research. I applaud FSU’s efforts to help more graduate students secure outside funding through the new OGFA. In fact, its sole staff member has already been very supportive as she administrates these new Fulbright-Hays and NSF awards. Having watched similar programs help generate thousands of research dollars for students at other institutions, I am confident that the OGFA will be a successful project for FSU.
I offer a few critiques here even as I champion FSU’s recent efforts to make graduate research a priority, and I do so at the risk of soiling the extraordinary sense of gratitude I feel for having been selected as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow. This is the most honest brand of school spirit: ONF is great, but OGFA is proof that we can do better at the graduate level. The next step must be to support the academic programs and professors that foster bright students and award-winning ideas! (Ahem: ‘Noles Need Anthropology)
Filed under travel, uganda
I’ve got three great reasons to celebrate musicology today:
#1: My Colleagues
This weekend my university’s College of Music hosted a joint regional conference between the Society for Ethnomusicology and the American Musicological Society. Many members of our local professional organization, the FSU Society for Musicology, cooperated to tackle all of the logistics of hosting about 150 musicologists from the American Southeast. Although I’m the president of this little organization, I feel as though my job leading up to this was incredibly easy. Yes I had to do some work, send some e-mails, put some press together, and carry a few heavy things. Yes it involved a 15-hour Friday in the middle of a week in which I was moving into my new house, but these folks are fantastic. I have the greatest colleagues in the world. We work too much, we get paid too little, and we have unreasonably high standards, but we always take care of our own.
We kicked the conference off this weekend with a guest lecture by Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, Dr. Aaron Fox. His lecture on “Country Music’s Late Modern Period” also gave us an interesting perspective on Ethnomusicology’s Late Modern Period. Fox’s delivery was confidently casual, and the next morning I enjoyed an equally casual breakfast with him as we talked over some more personal career things. During the morning African music workshop that I ran with my esteemed colleague and dear friend Kafumbe, I re-connected with some other professors whom I really respect. The workshop only enhanced my respect for these folks, as it gave me an opportunity to observe that these folks can back up their good scholarship with solid musicianship. But it was that evening that really reminded me how truly fortunate I am to be surrounded by great mentors. The keynote lecturer centered his talk around making our research really mean something in the lives of our field colleagues. It was preceded by the warmest introduction from one of his colleagues, an example that left no doubt about why I enjoy such great professional relationships. Olsen’s remarks left the crowd feeling inspired, and we thanked him for that and his thirty-five years of service with a lengthy standing ovation. I’ve never seen that happen after a lecture . . . ever. It was clearly well deserved, and we then had the privilege of moving on to a reception celebrating the careers of two of our retiring faculty members. One was the keynote lecturer, the other our area coordinator. The whole thing left me feeling like taking care of our own moves far beyond making sure students’ needs are met. Olsen and KP, you will be dearly missed.
#3: Newfound support
Well, after numerous grant applications, I was not surprised at the beginning of this week to receive a rejection letter on one of the larger fieldwork grants I’ve applied for. It happens, and it’s why you don’t count on any grant funding as a sure thing. But when I heard I’d been denied another local grant through the FSU College of Music after being selected as the finalist from the Musicology area, I was a bit more disappointed. One panelist reviewing that grant had straight out told me that he ranked my proposal at the top, and another strongly hinted at it. A few days later, I let go of my disappointment and embraced a new source of support. I had all but forgotten that I applied for a new grant through the FSU Office of Graduate Studies. This week, I was awarded a generous stipend and a tuition waiver for the next academic year to embark on a one-year field research endeavor. With this community of scholars and mentors behind me, I move forward confident that I’ll have all the professional support I need to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.