At the year-end faculty meeting this afternoon, it was announced that I have been selected to receive this year’s W.C. “Billy” Carter Professorship, one of two one-year endowed professorships awarded each year at Newberry College. It’s an honor I hadn’t anticipated, and in conjunction with previous awards from the student government and the administration, it completes the trifecta of faculty honors here at Newberry. I’m deeply grateful, and I’m especially delighted by this particular benefactor. When I told my parents back in 2003 that I had taken a position in Newberry, my mother said, “Oh! That’s where Carter and Holmes Orchids are!” I’d like to think that wherever she is, she’s tickled about this honor. I certainly am.
When I set out on my move back into academia almost twenty years ago, I knew that I wanted to spend my career at a small, teaching-focused college. While I’m passionate about writing and literature, and wanted to share those passions, I also wanted to be Mr. Chips — a campus character, the guy that old grads will talk about after I’m gone. I seem to have taken significant steps in that direction, and I deeply appreciate the students, faculty, and administration for giving me the space and support to flourish in that manner. Inshallah, I hope to have many years in which to continue.