Sunday, May 22, 2022

"Let me ask you a quick question": Meetings with Cindy Reed

[Part of a series on "Meetings and Happiness."]

Two years ago, we hired Cindy Reed. She and I did not get to talk as much her first year because the university was largely online because of Covid restrictions. But we've been catching up since she returned to full in-person this semester. 

And I say "catching up," because I first met Reed years ago, as she earned an MA with us. 

Her office is right across the hall from mine, and this past semester, we had informal meetings on nearly every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and on some Wednesday mornings and afternoons. On a number of Wednesdays, she joined Donavan Ramon and me for our weekly lunches.

My Tuesday and Thursday morning meetings with Reed would always begin the same way. Either she'd walk over to my office, or I'd walk over to hers, and we'd open with a common starter: "Hey, let me ask you a quick question." That quick question was the start of conversations that almost always lasted 40 to 50 minutes before we headed off to our respective classes. 

The quick questions were about this or that black poet or this or that approach to a topic for a course. Or, I was filling her in on some bit of histoy about African American literary studies, the department, or the university. 

In early March, Reed and I began to spend considerable time planning for the fall when we'll expand our program for first-year black students. We've cumulatively spent hours talking, texting, and emailing each other this semester about what we want the courses and co-curricular activities for the program to look like.  

Starting the conversation so early made it possible for us to go in more relaxed about major upcoming changes. And since we were dreaming up possibilities, we had time to speculate, rethink ideas, raise questions, and laugh about all kinds of things in the process. 

The relaxed and jovial nature of our discussions contributed to making this semester happy for me. 

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