Monday, September 22, 2008

The Hard Life of the Utility Infielder

When PSU's Dr. Dan Moore first suggested I apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at Babes-Bolyai University, he had just returned from his third visit here. Dan told me that UBB were looking for a versatile business professor, and said, "I immediately thought of you." What he meant was that I had broad enough academic training and business background (and enough dumb gumption) to take on courses in subjects about which I knew little-to-nothing, learn along with my students, and do a passable job in the classroom. Hence, ever since I joined the faculty at Plymouth State College, way back in 1976, I have served as the utility infielder for the business department. It happened again, today, as I agreed to step in and fill a gap by teaching Labor-Management Relations in the English language business program. Then, I pointed out to all in the meeting what a great example of labor management Dean Lutas had just demonstrated. She had gotten me to double my teaching load for the fall without having to pay me an extra penny.

Thus, today I met my new "boss," Vice Dean Dr. Mihaela Lutas. Mihaela showed me to my new office, and arranged for my having a tour of the huge (15,000 student) Faculty of Economics (their term for "School of Economics and Business"), which is equipped with beautiful lecture halls, seminar rooms, a cafeteria and exercise space for faculty with both machines and a masseur, lockers and showers, etc. It is a world class facility. My tour guides were Professor Dr. Alexandra Mutiu, with whom I shall teach management accounting in the spring, and Ph.D. candidate Melinda Plescan, who is to be my teaching assistant. I also met Prof. Ioan (John) Plaias of the Marketing Department, who was once a Fulbright Professor at UVM in Burlington, as well as a number of important staff members and other new colleagues.

As the meeting closed, Mihaela and I compared schedules and learned that we both have meetings in Bucharest on Thursday. That fact decided my transportation question. We will drive down together on Wednesday by way of Sibiu, another important Transylvanian city. That means that I will have a guide, and that we can have a really good talk on the seven-hour drive. (How wonderful it would be one day to have a chance to get to know some of our PSU administrators in such a way!) In Bucharest, I will drop Mihaela at her hotel, then join my fellow Fulbright-RO newbies at Hotel Victoria.

As Mihaela will return to Cluj by train on Thursday night, I will be driving back by myself. That gives me an opportunity to see more of the country, so I decided the time had come for a GPS.

At that point Alexandra offered to help. She has a friend who happens to be a GPS wholesaler in Cluj! Voila! An affordable unit! The Beamer is now also a navigator. I tested it out tonight, and sure enough, it guided me back to my free parking spot at the Administration building. I have contacted Romanian PSU Professor Roxana Wright to see if this Saturday would be a good time to visit her parents in Brashov, which lies on the other good road between Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca.

I continue to be impressed with the beauty and culture of Cluj, and most of all impressed with the people I have met at UBB.

Tomorrow, I shall meet with the European Studies Faculty. I am not to be teaching a course there until spring, but will likely take part in their academic life. This is where Mircea Maniu teaches. Knowing Mircea, I will be put to good use.


Rather Dashing said...

very cool. Cursed with too many talents. Good luck getting it all done.

SKM said...

I'm torn. Will the GPS unit lead to less or more shun-piking?

Duncan McDougall said...

Well said. That is as we have often wondered. I intend to use GPS only when I need it, as I did last night. Before I bought GPS, I wasted an hour in heavy traffic trying to find my way to the Administration building, which is just a couple of blocks from Union Square. But this city is a maze of one-way streets. With GPS, I drove straight there, in the dark. Lost in Moldavia some day, I imagine I'll be glad I have it. Getting to Moldavia on a weekend, I will not even turn it on.

SKM said...

How do I post a picture?

SKM said...

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Dear Duncan,
I am interested in teaching at Babes-Bolyai University, starting as soon as January 2009. I can teach American style accounting subjects, including financial accounting and managerial accounting, in English. I taught at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia from 1995-2000. Can you steer me to the appropriate individual for forwarding my cv? Thanks, Linda Wenning e-mail
I am otherwise retired and self-sufficient.