This summer, I will be leaving academia. The proximate reason for this is a desire to live & work in the same town where my wife does. The University of Maryland, it turns out, is unwilling to dedicate the necessary resources to spousal hires (which are, it should be noted, an equity issue par excellence).
But this isn’t just about UMD. I might be overestimating my own merits, here, but I think there’s something fundamentally broken about a profession where Asia and me getting a joint hire somewhere amounts to a pipe dream.
I’ve been a linguist, in one capacity or another, for 18 years now (counting from the start of my first graduate degree in linguistics), 10 of those as a faculty member. That’s a big slice of my 46 years of life so far. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done, both in terms of the scholarship I’ve produced, and in terms of the teaching, advising, and mentorship I’ve had the opportunity to do. One of the harder things about this departure is the thought that I won’t really get to do that anymore, at least not in the same fully-engaged capacity as before.
It may be an exercise in self-consolation, but I do feel like at least I’m leaving on my own terms. I was fortunate enough to get tenure in a good department; I had a mostly enjoyable 8 years there; in the end, it didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good run.
I’ll have more to say, in due time, about certain aspects (intellectual and otherwise) of being an academic linguist these days, aspects that could use the kind of disinfectant benefits that a bright light brings. But there’s no rush.
For now, I want to express my appreciation to each and every one of you who I got to interact with thanks to linguistics; who read my work, listened to my talks, or invited me to listen to theirs; who gave me the time of day to chitchat or gave me professional advice or helped me understand countless things which I didn’t have a good enough grasp of. And to my mentors over the years: Tali Siloni, Julia Horvath, David Pesetsky, Sabine Iatridou, Jaklin Kornfilt, John Bailyn, Norbert Hornstein, and Masha Polinsky, who has done more for me and my career in the last 10 years than can even be put into words. Thank you all.