Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Aunt Jean died yesterday

I really should post to this blog more often. Sadly, I always wait for some major life event to spur me to write. This time is no different.

My Aunt Jean, a beautiful woman with a huge heart and sweet spirit, died Monday after a short illness. She was, without a doubt, my favorite aunt, just as her husband, my Uncle Clarence (who was my dad's brother), was my favorite uncle. I learned a lot from both of them over the years, and now that she has died (Uncle Clarence died three years ago), my cousin Karen and I (and our two sons) are the last of the family to survive. It's kind of a sobering thought. My son is the last male Chappell.

Funny story: My son might not exist -- nor me -- were it not for my Aunt Jean. She used to work with mom, and introduced her to my dad. Whey they started dating, Aunt Jean also warned my mom that my dad was bad news, and she might not want to date him, so I guess you could say that's a wash. Either way, I'm pretty sure the introduction helped bring me about.

Here's my aunt's obituary. I will be flying down Sunday morning to attend the service, and at my cousin's request, sing the same song I sang at my uncle's funeral at my aunt's request -- Beulah Land. Pray I make it through the song. It's made more difficult by the fact they attended a Church of Christ. They don't believe in music. A cappella is it.
A memorial service for Norma Jean Shipp Chappell will be held Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. at the Ohatchee Church of Christ. The family will receive friends at 2 p.m. Mrs. Chappell passed away Monday at her residence in Jacksonville, Ala. Mrs. Chappell was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Clarence Edward Chappell. Her daughter, Karen Chappell Davis, son-in-law John W. Davis and grandson Caleb Chappell Davis survive her. She also leaves behind one brother Charles Shipp and his wife Margie, sister-in-law Mary Shipp, nieces and nephews, and many, many friends. Mrs. Chappell grew up in Corner, Ala., and graduated from Corner High School. She worked for various employers and was retired from the State of Alabama, where she worked as a secretary for over 20 years. A giving and generous person all of her life, she has chosen to continue giving in her passing and has donated her body to the UAB Anatomical Donor Program. The family requests no flowers. Please honor her memory by giving to the charity of your choice.
I fly into Atlanta at 9 a.m. Sunday, and fly out of Atlanta at 1 p.m. Monday, so this is a quick trip. I'm sorry there won't be time for visits with friends.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New job underway

As many of you know, but some may not, I got a job! It's not permament, and it's not the perfect situation, but it is employment.

I am now the Interim Director of Student Publications at Northwest Missouri State University. It's a one-year appointment for which I may apply for the full-time appointment; however, some things have to be worked out first. The location is Maryville, Mo. Right now, that means I live apart from Crista and Duncan during the week, and commute back to Indianola on the weekends. With Crista's job at Wells Fargo going so well, and Duncan skipping the eighth grade, we felt now was not the time for a family relocation -- particularly for a one-year appointment!

Should I apply for the job full time, there are other considerations. There's really nothing in Maryville for Crista. I mean, nothing. Outside of the University, this town is a black hole of employment. Businesses are closing up shop left and right, and vacant properties are everywhere. The University had a number of layoffs itself in spring (a plight I am all too familiar with), but at least here, the layoffs seem to have been targeted and involved a campus-wide reorganization and restructuring. The opposite of Simpson College, where a bunch of lazy administrators took the easy way out and made no substantive changes.

Additionally, the health insurance here is abysmal. I've never worked anywhere with such a bad health plan. Everyone I talk to has a spouse working somewhere else with better insurance (which is my case with Crista). If we were to be on the family plan here, more than half my paycheck would be taken to pay for the plan! It's insane! So, that may be the deal-breaker in terms of me working here full time. We'll see.

But at least I'm working this year, which is more than I can say for many of my former friends and colleagues at The Birmingham News.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Six months and counting

Well, it's been almost seven months since Simpson College cut my position due to funding issues, and I'm still in the hunt for a job. My two best prospects came up empty -- one was filled by an alumnus, fundraiser and big-time donor to the college, which made me question why the search was conducted -- and the second search was placed on "indefinite hold" due to budget problems of its own. It's a shame to see the economy having such a negative impact on higher education.

As a result, I've expanded my search beyond higher ed. As much as I love teaching and advising students, something I think is my first, best destiny, I do need a job. I remain a journalist at heart, so whatever job I pursue will have that as a focus. I don't think you will see me flipping burgers anytime soon, at least, I hope not.

In the meantime, I am working hard at my other passion, connecting students with internships and entry-level jobs. My @comminternships feed and blog continues to grow. Now, if I could only find a way to monetize that thing....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

10 days later...

It's been 10 days since Simpson College told me I would not be returning next year due to budget cuts. Aside from finding myself incredibly unmotivated to support the college at this point, I haven't given up on my students. And they haven't given up on me. I want to first publicly thank the students who have vocally and otherwise protested my layoff. I want you to know I'm still in your corner, and I remain completely devoted to you and the classroom and my responsibilities to you.

I've spent the past 10 days reflecting on what it is, exactly, I want to do next. I honestly still don't know. I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and I can honestly say the students at Simpson have been among the best I've ever taught. I love our interactions and relationships. The faculty here have been overwhelmingly supportive as well, and I will miss them terribly when I leave.

In the meantime, my search is underway. I have to say that today's high temperature of 14 degrees has me looking South as much as possible (sorry, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, I won't be applying for your vacancy), but I remain open. My wife is also being incredibly supportive, telling me that I should be looking for my dream job. Frankly, I thought I had it here, which is what makes things so difficult. Hopefully, the next place that hires me will appreciate me and see me as a valuable asset. I still don't know if that will be in higher education. Since I'm over 40, though, I'm not sure how to reinvent myself at this point. I have to say I find myself extremely frustrated. I've applied for three jobs in the past week. I was very selective and applied only for places I felt I would be valued and for which I would value working. I imagine if I'm still unemployed come May, that selective application process will fall by the wayside. We'll just have to wait and see.

I could always plant a chile pepper farm and enter the salsa business....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So, I need a job...

As many of you know, I was "laid off" from Simpson College Tuesday afternoon as part of a major cost-cutting initiative. Enrollments here are at an all-time low, and the college is hemorrhaging money, and letting faculty go is now part of the way to get students to come back. Yeah. It makes no sense to me, either, but it is what it is.

As I begin the job hunt again -- something I honestly wasn't ever hoping to do again, because I liked it here at Simpson -- I find myself wondering two things: (1) Do I want to stay in higher education, given the climate nationally, and (2) is there anything out that there that is stable at all? I love teaching, and I'm rarely happier than when I watch that proverbial light bulb go off over a student's head during that moment when he or she "gets it." I have also started a small side hobby, a Twitter feed called @comminternships, dedicated to helping college students land that first job during and after college. It has also expanded to a regular blog post at College Media Matters. I will endeavor to continue that regardless. In fact, I am already considering ways in which I might be able to monetize that in the future. Let's just say it may be time for me to practice what I preach in the classroom regarding entrepreneurial journalism.

The nice thing has been the parade of students and faculty stopping by to tell me they can't believe I, of anyone, was let go. The fact of the matter is that wear a lot of hats here -- I teach three classes a semester minimum (I usually teach an overload or two in our night program as well); I advise the newspaper, magazine and the radio station; and I serve as the internship coordinator for communication and media studies. Now, all of those duties are going to be distributed among the three remaining journalism faculty members -- each of whom is already stretched to the limit. I feel sorry for them, because my departure hurts them almost as much as it hurts me.

I am hopeful this job search is as fruitful as my last. When I chose Simpson, I had four other job offers on the table at the time. This seemed, at the time, to be the most stable option. One lesson learned: I'm clearly not a good judge of stability.

If you have any knowledge of job options, please let me know.