So that's it.
So that's it. These words came to my mind Friday afternoon, as the students filed out of the last class of the semester and I turned around to erase the board. I had wished the group a good summer as I said goodbye to them, and several wished me the same as they handed in their final paper. A few minutes later, it occurred to me that the words 'have a good summer' typically have an unspoken corrollary: 'see you in the fall.' In this case, the corrollary would be misplaced: I probably won't see any of my current students in the fall, because the last class of the semester was also the last class that I will teach as a regent. Many of the students that I have taught over the last three years will return to Hawk Hill in the fall, but I will not.
As many readers know, the stage of Jesuit formation known as regency is sandwiched between periods of academic study. After completing studies in philosophy, itself a prelude to anticipated pre-ordination studies in theology, Jesuits move on to a period of full-time apostolic work which is meant both to test and to nurture our ministerial abilities. After successfully completing regency, Jesuits go to study theology in more proximate preparation for ordination to the priesthood. I have been approved for theology and I know where I will be going in the fall, but I'll say nothing more about that now because I've planned another post on the topic.
For now, I'd simply like to say something about the experience of completing regency. In some sense, these reflections are premature: I will meet all of my students again this week for final exams, and I have a lot of grading to do before I can really say that I'm 'done' with the work of the semester. Even so, this seems a good time to express my gratitude for the experience of teaching at Saint Joseph's University for the past three years. The sweat and toil involved in preparing for class and grading student assignments has been more than amply compensated for by the sheer joy of teaching, a joy that I have felt from the first day of my first semester here. As one who anticipates doing more teaching in the future, I hope that this sense of joy remains with me.
Partly by design, universities are transient communities. The undergraduate population changes constantly, forming an almost entirely new student body every four years. Faculty members are generally expected to stick around quite a bit longer, though changes in the profession and in resource allocation at universities are gradually chipping away at the expectation. Even when faculty do stick around a long time, as more than one retired professor has reminded me, they can often be swiftly forgotten on campus once they leave the classroom. With very little amendment, all that I've written here about faculty could also be applied to staff and administrators. In the end, none of us can claim the Ivory Tower as our lasting city.
What am I really trying to say? Well, all things come to an end, and this chapter of my life is ending. I will say more about the start of the new chapter in due time, but, for now, I had better get back to grading papers. AMDG.