Monday, August 19, 2019
A hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people. – Maya Angelou
The other day I emailed a colleague, that I won’t identify by name, seeking advice. The colleague, as expected, responded with very helpful information that I had not before considered. As I gushed my profuse thanks upon my colleague, my inner monologue said, “wow this person knows all the answers, I wish I could be like them!” My thoughts went immediately to a dream-like vision of them on some faraway campus with alphabetized, date-sorted, color-coded files of perfect teaching evaluations; an impeccably clean desktop; an email inbox that has been zeroed out; and a tickler with everything checked off. I fantasized that this person, my ASP hero, was respected and listened to by the faculty at their school and has well-behaved children at home to boot.
A phone call on my office line interrupted my fantasy daydream. It was a different colleague, this time calling me for help. I offered a suggestion to a problem presented, based on my experience. As the caller thankfully responded to me and then offered unsolicited extolment on something I’d published recently, it dawned on me that we are all, at some point, “heroes” to someone else.
I snort-laughed at the thought that someone outside of my building could be imagining me with the perfect office, the perfect classes, and the perfect life. My desk is cluttered, and my children are complex. There is far more in my to-do box, than in my outbox.
The point of my message is not about perceived perfection or praise. It is about our own reluctance to recognize how bad ass we really are. Sure, humility has its purpose, but too often ASPers are the unsung heroes of the law school. I champion my ASP colleagues who are teachers, leaders, and scholars. To all the adjuncts, instructors, lecturers, deans, directors, visitors, professors in residence, professors of practice, teaching professors, clinical professors, professors of academic support, and tenured professors, you may not have set out to be hero to anyone. But with every returned phone call and each answered email, with every listserv question and comment, with each textbook recommendation and syllabus share, you have become a hero to us all.