I was still under consideration at several great programs when I took the Roosevelt offer, some in promising locations, where Kevin might have been able to get a job in a year or two. I did hesitate before accepting the Roosevelt offer, considering whether I might prefer Tulane, or U Wisconsin-Milwaukee, or St. John's in New York, or U Alabama-Tuscaloosa, or Otis College, or Case Western. There was also some possibility of teaching adjunct creative writing at UIC (Kevin's school) instead; if that had happened, I would have been teaching a few classes in a large program -- less money up front, but also less work. I would have been a little fish in a big pond, but possibly a happy fish. And that job wouldn't have even required moving and being long-distance from Kev.
In the end, though, I took the Roosevelt job not only because it was local and convenient for our two-body problem, but because it honestly seemed like the most exciting and interesting job. Oh, some of the other programs had more prestigious departments, and certainly, prestige counts for something. If the U of C had actually interviewed me, rather than turning me down flat, I would probably have called them with the Roosevelt offer, seen what they had to say. But even then, I'm honestly not sure I would have taken it. Maybe that's nuts. (We'll see what happens if Stanford or Berkeley ever calls. :-)
I'm not sure what will happen with Roosevelt long-term. They have some hopeful plans that, if they can be implemented, could take their solid little program and make it tremendously vibrant. If funding does allow them to add multiple tenure-track positions in the next few years, so we can really build the program up, and if they continue to be open to genre fiction and to work around ethnicity and identity, then I think we can create something unique here. Their location is fabulous; right in the heart of downtown Chicago, in a gorgeous building facing the lake. It's inspiring just to walk through it, and I imagine a lot of students would be drawn to the program for its position in Chicago alone.
When I was thinking about the UIC possibility, I was aware that many writers would have jumped at the idea of teaching a few creative writing classes a year in an already-well-developed program, having no administrative responsibilities and lots of time left for writing. I used to say myself that that would be my ideal -- to write full-time, and teach a class or two a year. And maybe I'll eventually want to switch to that; I'm not ruling out the possibility. My writing might become more all-encompassing an aspect of my intellectual life. I might not be able to juggle it effectively with lots of teaching *and* administrative work in program development. I'm holding onto just teaching a class or two a year as a possibility.
But the thing is, I love program development. Essentially, that's what I did with the magazines, with the SLF, with DesiLit and Kriti. Even when the budget is being frustrating (which it pretty much always is with non-profit ventures, since there's always more cool stuff to do than there is money to do it), I love the scope of it, the sense that you're creating something large and gorgeous, that many people will benefit from and enjoy. You do that with writing too, if you're lucky, but in a very different way. More intimate, less participatory. It makes me so happy, knowing that the magazines are still going strong without me, that readers and writers and editors and tech folk are all cheerfully chugging along together, finding the project, the concept, worthwhile.
So I just have to count myself as tremendously lucky to get the chance to try to help implement something in a similar fashion, on an academic program scale. The folks at Roosevelt have some grand plans for expanding their program; I hope we can make it happen.