This Friday will be “Stop Day” at Kansas University, the day that signals the end of the teaching semester and the beginning of final examinations. Commencement will take place a week from Sunday. After the graduating seniors pack their belongings, they will leave KU with degrees in hand and begin their adult lives.
The campus will get quieter for a time, at least until the summer students begin to arrive in force. Many of the faculty will shift gears. Some will leave town and spread out around the nation and the world on research trips or just on vacation. Others will settle into their offices, laboratories and homes here and try to get on with the research and writing they couldn’t get done during the academic year.
A few will teach summer courses. Several will take on summer jobs to supplement their academic salaries. The 12-month staff will continue to do what they always do albeit, perhaps, at a somewhat slower summer pace.
Life for those who inhabit universities follows a different rhythm than for most people. University life is cyclical, built around the academic calendar and the teaching schedule. Even the campus changes according to the academic cycles. Now that summer is here and the majority of students are away from campus, many buildings close earlier. Library hours change.
Roadwork increases as does the frustration of those who try to navigate the campus by car. For faculty members the various meetings that interrupt the typical day during the semester cease. There’s even time to walk around the campus and appreciate just how lovely it is.
Of course, summer also brings changes to Lawrence. Finally, it’s possible to get a table at Free State Brewing Co. without a long wait. The Farmers’ Market and concerts in South Park can be added to the weekly schedule. The city pools open. Things are good.
Like most faculty I look forward to summer. I tend to spend my summers here. It’s a time for reading, writing and long walks around Perry Lake. It’s a time to remember how lucky I am to live here and to teach at KU.