Love in the time of tenure

For some, Feb. 14 is the best day of the year and for others, a depressing or disgustingly commercial occasion. For many, it’s just another day.Rather than take a side on this debate, The Cynic has chosen to celebrate the relationships that students, perhaps inclined towards a Charlie Brown view of their teachers, hardly notice. There are many married couples among the faculty at UVM. The Cynic caught up with just a few to see what it’s like to be married to the person in the next office, their plans for Valentines Day, and why going to graduate school seems like a wise romantic choice. Andrew Barnaby and Lisa SchnellAndrew Barnaby and Lisa Schnell are both Associate professors of English at UVM. They share many of the same academic interests such as seventeenth century British literature, the Bible as literature and Shakespeare. They have been married 18 years. How did you meet? Andrew Barnaby: We met in graduate school in the graduate study lounge of Princeton University library. Each department had graduate study lounges. Lisa Schnell: It was my first day there, and I came in and Andrew was already a third year student and I came in to get a book. All our reading was on a reserve shelf in there and he was in there all alone, working on his dissertation or something and I had my back to him and he said, “are you Lisa Schnell?” AB: I knew that because the person who was our thesis advisor had met Lisa somewhere else. He was on sabbatical and he said before he left, “we have a graduate student coming, you should meet her” because we share some academic interests. And it wasn’t the first day, because we had had a picnic, and I had been looking for [her] but I had forgotten [her] name, and I was thinking, ‘okay I remember it was a woman, and I don’t know which one.’ So I guessed it was her.What was the worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve gotten from each other?AB: I’ve never given her any bad Valentine’s gifts.LS: We actually got together on Valentine’s, it was right around then … so we’re not really big Valentine’s Day people, but it’s sort of our anniversary, so we do something. Last year I got him the “New York Review of Books.” We always get each other useful presents. AB: I’ve got something good this year, but I can’t tell you. LS: If you got me a vacuum, I’d be really happy.So what is dinner conversation like?LS: Well Andrew’s written a play and our daughter is very into that, so there’s been a lot of talk about that. There’s some singing involved with the play too, but I’ve put the kibosh on that. My rule is you cannot sing at the dinner table.What’s it like to be here in an academic and professional setting and then go home? Is it the same relationship?LS: Our kids would say that we don’t stop talking about that kind of stuff at home. AB: We are sensitive to that, we don’t talk about that at the dinner table. LS: It’s a rule. No shop talk at the dinner table, and they’ll always call us on it. So we usually talk about it when one of us is making dinner. Any Valentine’s Day plans?LS: We always make a nice dinner on Valentine’s, and we always ski on Saturdays, so we’ll go skiing.Annika Ljung-Baruth & Philip BaruthAnnika Ljung-Baruth is a lecturer and Philip Baruth is a professor in the English department at UVM. They have been together for 10 years.How did you meet?Annika Ljung-Baruth: When I came here on a scholarship to complete my dissertation in 1998. I came here from Sweden.Philip Baruth: We met in the copy room. What’s it like to be here in an academic and professional setting and then go home? Is it the same relationship?PB: Because we have kids we tend to stagger our schedules so one is with the kids and the other one is teaching that day. So we don’t see each other at school all that often. So when we do go home we compare notes. What’s dinner conversation like?PB: It’s mostly about the kids.ALB: And ideology. We’re always debating. PB: Anika is from Sweden, which has, according to her, the best system of government in the world. So we talk U.S. and Sweden – U.S. versus Sweden – all the time.What was the worst Valentines Day gift you’ve gotten or given each other?ALB: I gave him this Grateful Dead CD, and he likes the Grateful Dead, but I don’t think he’s opened it. PB: Originally we used to give each other poems when we first got together, then it moved to presents and the presents just aren’t as satisfying.ALB: Back to poems!Who wears the pants in the relationship?ALB: Oh, we both do, which has to do with the debating thing. PB: We’re equals and we’re strong-willed people who want their way.Robert Rodgers and Barbara Saylor-RodgersRobert Rodgers and Barbara Saylor-Rodgers are both professors in the Classics department. They have been married 35 years.How did you meet?Barbara Saylor-Rodgers: I’d cut Latin class and went to give [my professor] Charles Murgia a bogus excuse – this is at Berkeley – and he was about to have lunch with Robert. So I went along, but I knew better than to eat anywhere Charles chose. So that’s how I met him; that was in 1971.Robert Rodgers: Then she took a course with me next semester.You were a professor?RR: Yes, it was a major no-no. BSR: Well, not when the semester started, and it wasn’t as big a deal then. I was a graduate student.What’s the worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve gotten or given each other?RR: We don’t give them, but we eat a lot of chocolate.So dinner conversation isn’t about Latin?BSR: Oh no, ick.What’s it like to be here in an academic and professional setting and then go home? Is it the same relationship?RR: It’s pretty much the same. That’s both good and bad because we over-talk about things.BSR: If things are not going well at the University, it tends to get a little tedious and the kids hated it. We weren’t very grown up about it. But we do a lot of other things, of course.So do you have any Valentine’s Day plans?RR: Oh, that’s next week, isn’t it?BSR: No, we actually don’t do anything. It’s really weird. But then we never do anything on time. One Christmas we sent out Groundhog Day cards in Feb. because we forgot to send out Christmas cards. So we might celebrate in April.