Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ok, that was surreal...

Ok, that was downright surreal.

I was scheduled to give a brief talk to the faculty about an online service for retrieving law review articles. Fascinating stuff. My five minutes of fame was to follow a two-hour faculty seminar on grading exams. The faculty was tired. There was wine and cheese involved, so you know they had to be bribed to come in the first place.

I prepared my nice little PowerPoint presentation and also printed out the slides so I could just do handouts. It was all very Professional Librarian-ish. My shoes even matched my outfit, which is not always the case.

My speech was to start with, “Well, I’ll keep this short because I know you’ve all had a long afternoon” (translation: what I’m about to tell you is really, really boring and I’m so sorry you have to sit through it, but the library director wants me to have more visibility with the faculty so here I am).

Well, the moderator finished the grading seminar by saying, “Do you want to do the next problem, or shall we just say you know how to grade exams now, and move on to the wine and cheese?” It was that kind of afternoon.

I started to get up, but the Dean of the law school asked if he could have the floor first. He proceeded to talk about an administrative thing, after which he announced his resignation. And then, he left the room in tears.

With that, I was on.

Now, you have to understand that our Dean is universally loved – no, revered – and our adoration is absolutely justified. And apparently, no one had the slightest idea this was coming. Not the academic dean, not even my boss the library director, who knows everything.

So I went up, in complete shock along with everyone else. One professor called out, “I hope you have something cheerful to tell us.” Which, of course, I didn’t.

So, after saying something about how the Dean’s resignation “really sucks,” I went on to my little speech. As I’m talking, I’m looking around the room. Half the faculty members are crying. The others are talking amongst themselves. I’m pretty sure no one is listening.

By the time I was finished, a few people were actually listening, which is good. My boss tried to help by asking me a question (the answer to which, of course, I did not know). And then, thank goodness, it was over.

I could have used some of that wine, but things were already bad enough.

Dean R--, you’re a mighty hard act to follow. I sure don’t envy the person who has to fill your shoes.

In the meantime, I told my boss, next time I want to go on first.