I've been granted a sabbatical!
From January through June 2018, I'll be on paid sabbatical from FGS. I am very excited.
(FGS offers the same deal as many colleges do: a year at half-pay or a half-year at full pay. I'm choosing the latter option.)
It's taken quite a few years for me to get to this point. This was actually the second sabbatical application I'd written, but no one but me ever read the first one. After I'd written it, I imagined myself waking up every morning to do the project I'd outlined ... and I thought, "Dang, I'd rather go to school!" I realized that I was still in academic mode of wanting to "produce" something and that I'd proposed writing an article that was well-focused and would have looked good to the selection committee but that I didn't actually want to write. Same thing the next year, although at least I realized my error before I bothered to write up the whole application.
So I decided I was just going to wait until I thought of something that I really wanted to explore and that I'd honestly rather work on than go to school. And last year I thought of a project, something I was really pleased about. So I wrote up an application, a really good one, and submitted it with a high heart ... and wasn't selected.
I cried, a lot. It was embarrassing, actually, because I cried in front of the FGS head of school when she told me. (It was so embarrassing that apparently I couldn't bring myself to blog about it.) In my defense, I was completely worn out from teaching an overload, and I would have been fine if she'd just told me the news and left it at that, but instead she added some comments about how I was thinking so big and broadly while the sabbatical recipients had been much more focused and specific, and then she just kept going on about that, which I started taking as a comment on my intellectual pretensions. (That's probably not what she meant, but I was tired and disappointed.)
It turned out that the quality of my proposal actually had nothing to do with it at all. The academic dean, who led the selection process (which didn't include the head of school), made super clear to me that my proposal was great, everyone loved it, and I should submit exactly the same proposal the next year. She said that the decision came down entirely to how long folks with qualifying proposals (including me) had been at FGS, and that the people who were selected both had a longer tenure at FGS than I did and had proposed great projects. I told the dean what the head of school had said about my proposal, and she rolled her eyes a bit and reiterated that my proposal was wonderful and that I should submit it again with no changes.
So that's essentially what I did this year. I updated the sabbatical proposal a bit, but otherwise it was basically the same as last year's. And I was successful! (And I'm sure that it once again came down mostly to seniority, once they'd weeded out any not-up-to-snuff proposals.)
I actually got the news in early November, but it was two days after the election, when nothing else seemed to matter. It's taken a while for the reality of an upcoming sabbatical to really sink in. It's beginning to sink in now, because I'm realizing that next year at this time, I won't be gearing up to head back into classes but will rather be going into sabbatical mode, whatever that will look like.