This is the end of the first week of classes at USF. It’s been a good week, full of teaching, data analysis, writing, planning for a cross-disciplinary graduate seminar, and meetings.
It’s also a week for a good-bye. My friend and colleague, who served the first half of his USF-GAU* Co-Presidency with me and the latter portion of mine, is moving on to greener pastures. I’m incredibly happy for him, and I’m also very proud of him. But, of course, I’m also sad that he’s leaving. J.G.L. has been an incredible asset to USF-GAU. It feels like a rocket ship has been attached to the graduate assistants’ union since he became a leader. We’ve accomplished so much with his ideas, courage, and enthusiasm. Membership in the union is the best it has ever been, largely because of his organizing efforts. We’ve got a strong presence with other GAU’s across the state, largely because of his interest and energy. The momentum has been amazing.
And it’s been incredibly fun working with J.G.L., because his enthusiasm is contagious. When I was President of GAU, before he came along, we were running on a skeleton crew. Everyone who participated was pretty burned out and stretched pretty thin. Not long after J.G.L. was recruited to the union, interested leaders started coming out of the wood work. It wasn’t long before we actually had people to delegate to, not to mention bounce ideas off of! The transformation was fairly immediate, and certainly lasting.
His announcement that he was leaving was rather sudden. Still, I wanted to do something special for his going away, so I created the below painting. In the center is a union button that he designed. GAs (Graduate Assistants) do their work with love, and this was never so apparent or true when speaking about J.G.L.’s work and commitment to the union.
USF-GAU will manage without J.G.L. Mostly we will, because he organized us enough that we can run moderately smoothly on any given day. That is coupled with the fact that we have an excellent President and Executive Board remaining behind. We didn’t have a full Executive Board from the time I joined the union, back in 2010, until last year: after J.G.L. got involved.
His absence will be heartily felt (pun intended ?). I’m glad he’s not moving geographically, but the absence in GAU will be profound.
I’m so incredibly grateful for all he has done for GAU. He’s managed to turn GAU into the organization that I wanted it to be when I first joined the union, during my department’s Teaching Assistant orientation on one of the first day’s I was at USF back in 2010. I played a role in getting the union to where it is, but I’m so grateful to his knowledge and experience that catapulted GAU to where it is today.
You will be missed, J.G.L., but you certainly left your mark. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for fighting the good fight for higher education unions. I will watch Kafka anytime you need me to…
*USF-GAU = University of South Florida chapter of Graduate Assistants United