Hi, everyone! I’m Chris Caterine, and this is the inaugural post for my webpage’s blog. I’m hoping to be active on here 2-3 times per week, so check back often. Today I’d just like to tell you a bit about myself and what you can expect to find here in the future.
First and foremost, I consider myself a resident of New Orleans. I only moved here with my wife Mallory in 2013, but I quickly fell in love with the city and everything it has to offer. Its rich culture, rich history, and exceptionally rich food have a way of drawing you in, and even though we initially thought our time here would be brief, we quickly came to call New Orleans home. I initially plugged into the community through the Crescent City Homebrewers, while Mallory connected to it by skating with the Big Easy Rollergirls. The first sign the city had its hooks in us came in 2015, when we adopted a cat and named her “Li’l Easy.” In 2016 I was elected President of the CCH, and Mallory became Membership Manager for BERG. We had a chance to relocate for work that February, but struggled to imagine what we would eat if we weren’t in New Orleans. That May we decided to make things official: we bought our first house together right here in the 504.
Given that it was the possibility of work elsewhere that convinced us to stay in the city, it seems a bit ironic that work was what first brought us here. Mallory and I are both trained as academics, and we came to New Orleans after she got a job as a Lecturer at Tulane. At that point I was just along for the ride while I completed my Ph.D. out of the University of Virginia. The timing on a few things worked out well, however, and Tulane offered me a two-year contract as a Visiting Assistant Professor (since extended for a third and final year) after I defended my dissertation in May 2014. This was extremely good luck: we had spent five years doing things long-distance while in graduate school, and this meant we got to work side-by-side for the first three years of our marriage.
During that time I became an advocate for issues affecting contingent faculty, a group encompassing all professionals in higher education who work in teaching positions that are not eligible for tenure. As a more fortunate member of this community, I was eager to do what I could to help the massive number of academics who earn low wages, labor under crushing teaching loads, and are often denied basic benefits. I thus accepted a position as head of the Society for Classical Studies’ “Advisory Group on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Issues,” a role in which I led a team of fifteen scholars in researching issues affecting this vulnerable group and devising policy recommendations for the Society to address them. This work yielded a number of important results: the advisory group is now a standing committee in the Society’s governing structure; the Society has set aside travel funds for contingent faculty to attend its annual meeting; and the Society is emending its Statement on Professional Ethics to promote better treatment of contingent faculty. My own efforts in advancing these causes did not go unnoticed by the Society’s leadership: its president appointed me inaugural chair of the new Committee on Contingent Faculty and gave me a seat on the Professional Matters Committee, positions I will hold through 2017.
My work on contingent faculty issues and my love of New Orleans soon conspired against my commitment to academia. The energy I drew from my efforts to have positive changes on an institution that I cared about stood in stark contrast to the feelings of drudgery that came to accompany my academic research. I also knew that pursuing a tenure-track job would mean leaving New Orleans, which became a less appealing possibility with each additional day I lived here (again, what would I eat!?). Eventually, the obvious costs of pursuing an academic career came to outweigh its potential benefits. It was clear that I was already home, and that the right solution to the job question was to find work that would allow me to give back to that home as much as it had given to me.
And this is where things stand for me today. I’m currently seeking work in New Orleans that will allow me to help individuals and communities reach their full potential. While I’m not sure exactly what my new career will entail just yet, I’m excited to contribute to the passion and generosity that run through all the people who populate the Crescent City.
This blog will be a place where I chronicle this journey and ponder a wide range of related issues. I’ll be posting my thoughts on higher education, doctoral study, and contingent faculty issues; sharing articles and news reports about the things that make New Orleans the inimitable city that it is; and demonstrating in real time how a person can transition from a career in academia to the wide world beyond it. I’m eager to get feedback about the blog posts and pages, so if you have a thought or question of your own feel free to use the contact form to get in touch.
Thanks for reading!