The day I got tenure

by Orr Shalit

I was on the phone, and there was a knock on my door. I mumbled something and in came the dean. “Oh, I see that you’re busy, I’ll come back later.”

I returned to the phone conversation. My mother was on the line, and she asked me to talk to my father, who had brain surgery scheduled for tomorrow, and persuade him to get dressed and go to the hospital with her. He accepted my authority. “OK father”, he said.

And then the dean came in. Bla bla bla, some committee of important people something, bla bla, my tenure and promotion to the rank associate professor were approved. Congratulations! “Thank you.”

Later that day I drove to the hospital to see my parents. “Hey, good news – I got tenure.” My father was moved to tears. He thought that tenure was a really big deal. He was right. It is a really big deal. On the next morning he went into surgery, from which he never woke up.

And so the last important thing that I told my father was that I got tenure, and that made him very happy. But I wish that it could have been something else.