You know how everyone says that when you return from an on-campus interview, you'll feel as if you've been hit by a truck?
They're absolutely right. I am beyond worn out.
That said, I had a delightful trip. I felt more authentically myself there, talking about research and teaching and public history, than I do in my actual job. I'm sure those of you who work as staff members in higher ed know the feeling; it's similar to what I've experienced at really terrific conferences on learning, and it comes not just from intellectual engagement and the excitement of new possibilities, but from receiving a greater than usual amount of respect.
I really liked the history faculty I met, and I was impressed by their collegiality and by both their academic and public scholarship. They were generous with their time and candid about the university and the city.
I also really liked the students I met, both in the classroom and in a private chat I had with a handful of them on my last day there.
The teaching talk went OK--it wasn't my best day, but not my worst by any means, either--and the faculty seemed to appreciate my research talk. They asked really thoughtful questions, ones that were challenging rather than intimidating.
One downside: It would be a major pay cut, and the cost of living isn't really low enough to offset the difference.
I had a ton of great conversations with a lot of really interesting people, and the city, while significantly more isolated than any city I've lived in, is self-contained. The word everyone kept using to describe it? Convenient. I don't know if that sums up everything I'm looking for in a city, but I was interested to learn about the interfaith and human rights campaigns in the city. There's a little white supremacy presence in another part of the state, and the occasional intrusion of Aryans into the city has fortified the citizens' commitments to civil and human rights. Now if only the rest of the (very red) state would join them, and pass legislation in support of GLBT folks. . .
But I digress.
The campus's teaching center is not to be believed. It's a young center, but oh. my. god. It's physically lovely and spacious, and its programs seem to be first-rate. While we're cutting programs due to budget cuts and layoffs, they're growing their outreach efforts. While we're moving our teaching center into a windowless cube farm, they're in their campus's newest building, in a space filled with natural light and comfy, welcoming furniture. It was inspiring and depressing all at once.
Anyway, the history department is interviewing two more candidates. Overall, I think I made a good impression, but I understand departments' decisions are driven by a number of factors. Still, I'd be delighted to be offered the job, and I should hear back within another week or so. I'll keep you posted. Kindly keep your fingers crossed for me.