Posted on 22 May 2018
It is with some mixed feelings that I announce that, after four years within the Archaeology Programme at Canterbury Christ Church University, I will be leaving UK academia at the end of this summer for a new position as Assistant Professor of History, Archaeology, and Digital Humanities at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI USA.
I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the faculty at Calvin College (soon to be "Calvin University"!), and very much look forward to the prospects of moving back "home" (I grew up in Michigan) and to working with my new colleagues and students to pursue academic excellence within a calling shaped by the Reformed Christian tradition. I also look forward to my new teaching assignments within History and Archaeology (the latter of which I will become the new Program Director for), and to working with colleagues across the College to develop a robust offering within Digital Humanities. Calvin College has, through the superb leadership of Emeritus Professor and outgoing Archaeology Program Director Bert de Vries, led the outstanding Umm el-Jimal Project in northern Jordan for some 40 years, and I am particularly delighted that this new position will cement my pre-planned joining of this excellent archaeological and community outreach work. The academic environment and opportunities to take my teaching and scholarship in new directions and to higher levels have made this an easy decision.
At the same time, the excitement and happiness is tempered by some sorrow at what is being left behind with this transition. I will genuinely miss my colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), and will especially miss all of the students that I have had the privilege of teaching here. As institutional lives go, the Archaeology Programme at CCCU is young and, although I haven't been here from its birth, I am very proud of what we've been able to accomplish as one of the UK's most vibrant and growing new Archaeology programmes. I very much wish each of my colleagues and all of our former, current, and future students all of the very best as they pursue their individual and collective futures. I will also miss the camaraderie of my UK-based colleagues at other institutions, and am saddened that I won't be able to see them quite as often. There is also some significant sorrow at the family level: we have lived in England for the past 10 years, and a trans-Atlantic move will certainly come with some disruption and disorientation. Although 5/6 of us moved to the UK from Michigan 10 years ago, England is now the only "home" our kids can really remember, and where our youngest was also born. We will miss the immense privilege of seeing majestic cathedrals every day (for our first 6 years it was the immense and glorious Durham Cathedral, and for the past 4 years the Mother Church of the Worldwide Anglican Communion: Canterbury Cathedral). We will all need to say "goodbye" to friends (at school, work, etc.) and to our wonderful The City Church Canterbury family. Yes, we're very excited about the prospects this transition offers, but there's quite a lot of bitter amongst the sweet.
At a future point, I MAY write some more about my thoughts on the UK's oppressive immigration policies (which would have probably forced us to leave the UK regardless of new job opportunities), and about the increasing problems that UK higher education faces in the light of the REF/TEF/KEF regulatory regime. Both of these have played some role in this transition for our family, but I don't want that to take away from the many positive reasons why I have accepted an appointment to the Calvin College faculty: almost certainly, I would have eagerly accepted this opportunity even if these factors did not exist.
So... to summarise: I'm leaving CCCU and the UK later this summer for a new position at Calvin College. I'm very sorry to be leaving excellent colleagues, students, friends, and our church family, and wish them all the very best. I look forward to hearing about how everything's going for those who are dear to me, and look forward to sharing about our new life (and my work) in Grand Rapids. Cheers!