Sixteen Years, What Do You Get?


One of the advantages of starting an academic career late in life is the understanding of the workplace and of people one brings into the new activities. One of the advantages, also, is that one is unlikely to have grandiose visions of a life in the ivied towers of a research institution. Unless one is already a star in another field, the gatekeepers at the elite institutions aren’t going to let one in; there’s no way of competing with the young tyros, so alternatives must be found.

My own career in academia, anyhow, was unorthodox from long before its beginning. As my friends have heard too often, I attended my first graduate class in a blue uniform with VW on one pocket, “Aaron” on the other. Even today, I live in a defiantly working-class neighborhood; our guests for dinner last night were a truck driver and his wife who works in…

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