I keep pining for the creation of an “events czar” who would rule the college calendar with an iron fist, cutting down the sheer number of events while also keeping them from overlapping. It’s not going to happen, because each event has a purpose for the group or individual who has convened it: no one could possibly have a big enough vision of what’s going on to know which events should happen and which shouldn’t happen. It’s frustrating simply because there are so many events I want to attend.
Sometimes, the event is very directly part of my work, most often when I’m speaking or presenting. I had a wonderful opportunity to speak at Juniata College in March, for example. It was a chance to catch up with an old friend and also meet her colleagues on the faculty, who were terrific, energetic, and smart without exception. The students impressed me even more: they asked really intelligent, pointed, intriguing questions and kept me on my toes for well over an hour after the talk ended.
Sometimes I’m at a meeting or event because it’s strongly connected to a course or program that I’m working with during the semester. Which doesn’t mean that’s just an obligation, there’s always something for me in these events: a new idea or an old one clarified, new information or a reminder of something I’ve known for a while, an encounter with a new perspective or a soothing reacquaintance with a familiar one.
Sometimes I’m just there because I’m interested. It’s what being in a college community is all about. Often that’s when I’m keen to share what I’m hearing via Twitter or this weblog. Though that didn’t go so well at the recent TEDxSwarthmore event, where there was a weird anti-Twitter, anti-information technology policy in place. (Ahem. First letter in TED is…?)