All posts by Isaac Sweeney


The Risk of Revealing the Secret of My Mental State

America doesn’t really take mental disorders seriously. Look at the case of Creigh Deeds and his son. In November, the Virginia state senator’s son stabbed him multiple times before shooting himself to death. This came one day after the son, Gus, was mentally evaluated at a hospital, but wasn’t held overnight because, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia.” So they sent him home.

This is an extreme case, and it has …


When It Isn’t Yours Anymore

I had an idea for a trip for honors students. It was just to go up the road about three hours to the National Aquarium, in Baltimore. Our honors program is in its pilot year, and it’s mostly about cultural and academic “experiences” while we work on developing our actual academic component.

The trip will still happen, but it’s going to be different from how I envisioned it. I wanted it to be a way to establish “community,” something that I think is missing from our little school, though it’s ge…


I Shouldn’t Have to Say It

In a developmental English class, a student said something very rude to me. I run a pretty laid-back classroom, so there are some occasions when students say things and I’m not sure if they’re rude. But I know this was meant to be rude. In her defense, I was picking on her a little. I kept asking her and her friend to answer the questions because they were the only ones chatting about the weekend and not participating in our activity. The student responded by saying, only slightly under her bre…


Pre-Tenure Fear

It has come to my attention that my writing for this blog has upset some of my colleagues. While it bothers me a little that I found this out thirdhand, what really irks me is the responses I get when I share this newfound information with others. People keep telling me to be careful until I get tenure.

If you’ve read even just a couple of my blog posts or other written pieces, you know that I try to write my opinion honestly (and it is just my opinion). This has been both good and bad for me. …


My Other Jobs

As a junior faculty member, I make a modest salary. With all the adjuncts out there, I know I don’t have much room to complain, but my salary isn’t really enough to make ends meet every month. So I do some other things.

I write for this blog, for one. I’m also an editor for hire; the most successful thing I’ve edited has been Kristian Alva’s Dragon Stone Saga. Recently, I’ve taken a cue from my own class, where I make students blog, and I started my own blog about life as a dad in Mechanicsville…


Moving Forward

A colleague recently told me about a job he applied for. I thought it was strange, because I know he loves teaching here, but things have changed lately at my college. It’s not a bad place to work, by any means. And by some standards, it’s kind of a great place to work. But there’s confusion and, where there’s confusion, there’s tension.

At Richard Bland College, we’ve gone through some significant administrative changes, including a new president and a number of new vice presidents, directors, …


Turn and Face the Strange

Richard Bland College, where I teach, is trying new things. I’ll pause so readers can catch their breath. I know “new things” don’t happen often enough in higher education but—and this opinion may be just a little biased—RBC is on track to becoming one of the most innovative two-year institutions in the nation because of our focus on student learning and because of our commitment to innovation.

There’s a problem, though. Some people here don’t want to change for no other reason, it seems, than t…


We Already Pay College Athletes

I read Time magazine’s recent cover story, “It’s Time to Pay College Athletes,” by Sean Gregory. While I agree with some of the article, much of it really bothers me. Please bear in mind that my perspective is from that of a faculty member at a two-year college, which recently joined the National Junior College Athletic Association, so our student-athlete looks much different from those featured in Gregory’s article, and our college is still getting used to the student-athlete.

The article claim…


A Q&A With the Author of ‘Re-Visioning Community Colleges’

I was excited to discover, last year, that my institution’s president, Debbie L. Sydow, co-wrote a book—Re-Visioning Community Colleges: Positioning for Innovation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), part of the American Council on Education Series on Community Colleges. Sydow had just started as the president of Richard Bland College, and I wanted to learn more about her views on higher education. There was also the thought, way back in my mind, that I could get some brownie points.

I did finally fin…


You Know, Twain Self-Published

As I’ve written, I recently self-published a book called Same Track, Different Track: One Adjunct’s Alternative Route to the Tenure Track. Some comments on The Chronicle’s Web site, especially in the discussion forums, have prompted me to say more about self-publishing as a viable option for writers. Then it occurred to me that I have already commented on self-publishing in Same Track, Different Track. Here’s an excerpt that deals with self-publishing:

Sleep was hard to come by after I lost my j…