As part of preparing for our impending move from Indy to Grand Rapids, my family and I have made a couple of visits to the area. These by necessity combine business with pleasure, since our three kids (ages 2, 5, and 7) don’t handle extended amounts of business well. On the last visit, we spent some time at the Grand Rapids Childrens Museum, the second floor of which is full of stuff that could occupy children — and mathematicians — for hours. This “exhibit” was, for me, one of the most evocative. Have a look:
I asked this on Twitter a few days ago, but I’ll repost it here: In the spirit of Dan Meyer’s Any Questions? meme, what questions come to mind as you watch this? Particularly math, physics, etc. questions.
One other thing — just after I wrapped up the video on this, someone put one of the little discs rolling on the turntable and it did about a dozen graceful, perfect three-point hypocycloids before falling off the table.
I wanted to announce to all you readers of this blog that some big changes are coming up soon for my and my family. This doesn’t really affect the blog, but you might like to know. I’ll be leaving Franklin College, my place of employment for nearly ten years, after this semester to accept a new position as Associate Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. My first official day at GVSU will be August 8, and we’ll be moving up to the Grand Rapids area probably in mid-July.
This has been a truly gut-wrenching decision to make, since Franklin has been extremely good to me for the last 9+ years, and I hope that I’ve done some good for the college and its students as well. It’s also a decision that’s been cooking for months, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t blog about it. In the end, though, I made the choice to go to GVSU for three reasons.
- I was really impressed by the university, which is just 50 years old and has an enrollment of 25,000 students — that’s double what it was 10 years ago. It’s an active, dynamic, forward-thinking institution that has all the accoutrements and resources of a large public university but hasn’t forsaken excellent undergraduate education as its primary focus. The math department, in particular, is loaded with talent and intellectual energy, both in mathematics and in teaching, which is rare to see in a big university.
- My family really liked the area, particularly those lovely beaches along Lake Michigan just a few minutes away and the small-but-big feel of Grand Rapids. My wife and I honeymooned in the Upper Peninsula and we’ve always felt like Michigan would be a cool place to relocate if it came to that. West Michigan has a low cost of living and a high quality of life, and it’s a great place for us to try to accomplish some personal and family goals we’ve set for ourselves.
- Above all, the people I encountered at GVSU — faculty, administrators, students, support staff — have been so kind, generous, and thoughtful throughout this whole process. Being an academic is about having ideas, but being a successful and happy academic is about surrounding yourself with people who support you, believe in you, and make you better at what you do. This is what makes good ideas take root and become great ideas. That’s what GVSU has to offer, and that’s the main thing that made my mind up in the end.
We will really miss Indianapolis, which is a great city and a terrific place to live and start a family. And we don’t look forward to trying to get our house sold in this terrible real estate market. (Referrals, anyone?) But it seems like the right place and the right time to do this, and my family and I are tremendously excited about what lies ahead.