My husband and I recently accepted new positions at another university. In making this decision, I didn't find many resources about this type of mid-career move that felt "real." My goal in the coming weeks is to do my best to honestly share what this process was like for me. To begin, the email I sent go my colleagues and students as a faculty member and grad director.
Dear HDFS community,
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Connecticut, and the last 18 in Pennsylvania (there may have been a couple of years in between). I literally grew up in CT, from birth to college launch. And I grew up as a professional from 2 months post-PhD assistant professor to full professor and Grad PIC in Penn State HDFS.
It is at this symmetrical crossroads that I had to make the most difficult decision of my career. This summer, I will be leaving Penn State to become the HDFS department head at UCONN. Eric will be joining the faculty of the Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment group in the College of Education.
It’s challenging to put in words how much Penn State, and the HDFS department in particular, have meant to me, and still mean to me. I cannot imagine a better set of colleagues and students or a more collegial and welcoming place. As a junior faculty member, I had abundant support. Throughout my career, I’ve had excellent collaborators, intelligent and, even more valuable, thoughtful and funny graduate students, and staff who provide extensive support while also reminding me that I sometimes need a vacation. Trying to explain the HDFS culture of comprehensive support, Follies, and fruit bandits to anyone outside HDFS is like explaining life on earth to martians; it’s natural to us, but foreign to others. Penn State, and Penn State HDFS, gave me an amazing career, nurtured me as a scholar and researcher, as an instructor and adviser, and as an administrator. Penn State, and Penn State HDFS, literally gave me my husband, and by extension, my children.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had role models of leaders in and from the department who manage to be excellent leaders and productive scholars as well. I know that I won’t be able to be match them, but I sure as hell will try.
The idea of leaving this place – HDFS, Penn State, and State College, the students, colleagues, and friends I have known for two decades, is the main thing that has kept me from sleeping much for the past three months. We have created family in happy valley, and moving away from this family after 18 years is even harder than it was for me when I first left Connecticut for college.
I would have liked to deliver this news to people in person, and I apologize to anyone I did not have a chance to. Know that this process has been difficult, and that I hope to get to talk to all of you and say proper, in person goodbyes before I leave.
Penn State, and Penn State HDFS, will always be an enormous part of my identity, more than any institution I’ve spent time at. Thank you, to all of you, for your support and kindness. I am very grateful to have had it for these 2 decades. I’m grateful to have spent one year of my career in a brand new building, which I may never get to experience again. I look forward to being one of those 2-degrees-of-separation people who walks up to student posters at conferences and says, you’re at Penn State HDFS? I worked there. It’s an amazing place.
"The post Moving Institutions: Part 1, The Goodbye first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz's blog on May 6, 2016"