"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dawning on me

As I wake up this morning, it dawns on me that precisely one week from today, I will wake up and no longer be chair of the mass communication department at the University of Central Oklahoma. I started as chair of the journalism department 19 years ago.

Every ex-chair I know smiles a lot. One, Kenny Brown of History, smirks. Steve Law of Humanities and Philosophy, smirks too. Greg Scott of Political Science, just smiles and shakes his head. Jim Baker of History smiles. Jim Watson of Design smiles and laughs and talks about "new life." Steve Garrison of English beams, and says, "You get your life back." These are my longtime colleagues and friends, who are smarter than me and got out earlier.

Mixed feelings, but as I've been reminded, in spite of much satisfaction, many accomplishments, hundreds of students, being chair will not be the pinnacle of who I am. I'm not retiring. I'm ready to smile, smirk, and tell stories.

That's brewing in my coffee pot.


  1. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am that you were the head of the department when I wandered in there with a notion to come back to school after a 30 year absence and get my degree in Journalism AND Public Relations. When I told you I needed 39 hours and wanted to do it in two semesters, you only blinked once. You grabbed all sorts of schedules and plotted out my academic life for the next 9 months and warned me that I could NOT vary this plan as it had no wiggle room. I followed your guidelines, got that degree. Thanks to you, the rest of the faculty and the sanity that Sheri brought to the department. Next time I wander up to UCO, I'll make sure I have the appropriate offering of thanksgiving. As I recall, it is homemade pecan fudge.
    Billye Johnson


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