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Retiring after almost 30 years at UWEC

| Bob Nowlan

As of the end of the Fall 2023 semester I will be retiring after working as a university level faculty member since the start of the Spring 1985 semester and at UW-Eau Claire as a professor of English since the Fall 1997 semester.  I will transition toward this retirement by working part-time, 60%, during the Fall 2023 semester.  In the summer of 2024 my husband, Andy Swanson, currently senior lecturer in Mathematics and Director of the Math Lab here at UW-Eau Claire, and I will be moving to live, full-time, upon retirement, as of August 1, in San Diego, California.

Andy and I have long sought to live in a large, major city, upon retirement, and after years of careful investigation and reflection we have determined that San Diego has everything we are seeking.  We plan to be active, engaged, and contributing members of multiple communities, in San Diego, even as we also plan to take life more easily and not lead as highly structured lives as we have led throughout our careers working as university faculty members.  We want to live in and be active citizens of a city that will continually challenge us, and which will enable us to continue to learn and grow, throughout the rest of our lives.  We are confident San Diego will do this for us.

Even though I will be retiring, and moving across country, I will always remain grateful for the opportunity I have enjoyed to work at UW-Eau Claire, since 1997, and especially to teach many wonderful classes and amazing students.  Andy and I both thank students past and present, as well as colleagues from across the university, in our departments and beyond, for showing us the welcome they have throughout these years.  

Teaching has been my passion, and indeed my calling.  But it is time.  Throughout more than thirty years I have dealt with seriously disabling chronic illness.  The cumulative effects are real and substantial.  These have been compounded by my recently developing lupus, as of August 2022.  Even though the treatment is going well and I am confident that I will win this fight, such that my lupus will be in remission in two to three years, lupus has a significant impact as well.

Once I retire and upon living in San Diego, no, I do not want to teach at any college and university.  I have loved teaching, and I will have taught classes for close to 40 years running, but I am ready not to face the significant structuring constraints or heavy burden of responsibility and duty of care that teaching requires.  I expect instead to be more involved in community organizations and activities, especially of the kinds I have not been readily able to pursue as a full-time university faculty member, and as someone living with seriously disabling chronic illness.  I do expect as well to continue and increase the writing I do, as well as continue and increase the work I do with music.  

It is up to others to determine what my legacy might be, and what kind of impact I might have left.  I will simply add that I have worked extremely hard as a professor, I have given it everything I had and often enough much more than I could afford to give; I have strived continually to do better and to be all the more useful to others with whom I work, especially in teaching; I have never become complacent and taken for granted any level of achievement by instead constantly experimenting and innovating as well as pursuing new passions, interests, concentrations, and emphases in new ways as well as new directions; and I have always strived to do what I do as a matter of principle as opposed to pragmatism.  I hope I have contributed in some useful ways, through my own actions, while working here at UW-Eau Claire and for nearly 40 years as a university faculty member, in the long and challenging process of creating a genuinely substantial culture of empathy and solidarity; of embracing active responsibility for collective well-being, of each for all and of all for each; and of drawing upon shared vulnerability as a source of, at least prospectively, the greatest strength.  

Bob Nowlan