My whole life I’ve grown up and/or lived around different colleges and universities. I was born in the hospital next to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, when my parents were students there and, given that my dad was a college English teacher (and, later on, an administrator), I’ve always been, with a few brief exceptions, kicking around the campuses of various schools.
My father, in particular, ingrained the idea into me from an early age that teaching was more than just a job. It meant being a part of the college community. At Tarleton State University he was the faculty advisor/sponsor for a variety student groups, was always game for participating in moderately bizarre fundraisers like donkey baseball/basketball, and acted in the faculty theater production almost every year. None of this was done for any quid pro quo reasons but, rather, because in his mind working at a college meant that you participated in all kinds of school-related activities just as a matter of course.
I suppose that we—that is, in particular, men and, more specifically, men in Texas—can never really live up to the expectations we create for ourselves by virtue of having an idealized vision of our fathers constantly in our mind’s eye . . . but one does what one can. To that end, when I first moved over to TSTC Publishing from the TSTC Waco English department I had the idea that I wanted to publish a journal focusing on general higher education topics, not to make money per se but to just create, promote, and participate in collegial “conversation” for its own sake.
Out of that impulse came the first issue of Best Practices in December of 2004. Over the next year and a half we published three more issues but as the realities of a new business start-up began to sink in—making enough money to be financially self-sustaining as soon as possible—loss leader ventures like this just weren’t a realistic use of our limited resources. Consequently, our most recent (and last) issue, much to my despair, was published in May of 2006.
Then again, as a result of our ongoing efforts to make TSTC Publishing an institution all of its own instead of just an interesting idea going nowhere fast, we now find ourselves—thanks to additional technology and personnel resources—in a position to relaunch Best Practices with a new, more focused mission to promote dialogue throughout the TSTC System, both geographically and hierarchically.
This summer we will begin producing and posting new content—inteviews, feature articles, reviews—to the revamped Best Practices Web site once the final logistical details are worked out. Until then, I would invite people to visit this site to see a sampling of articles from the earlier incarnation of Best Practices as well as to provide input as to what topics they think we should address in the future.