A Chapter Closed   9 comments

The University of Georgia’s Main Library

I have spent many hours in that building.

Image Source = Chuck from San Francisco


I used to have a dream of earning a doctorate in history.  Toward that end, I applied for admission to The University of Georgia for Fall Semester 2004, and did not get in.  So I reapplied for the school year beginning in Fall Semester 2005.  I did get in that time.  I did not know that a great nightmare sixteen months in duration was about to begin.  I choose not to mention most details for various reasons, but it is sufficient to say that I did not find the Department of History (as a whole, especially my major professor) supportive of my academic career.  I received notice in Fall 2006 that the department would not permit me a third year.  “Take an M.A. instead,” a letter and a high-ranking professor said.  “But I already have one,” I replied.  “Take another one, this time from a ‘superior institution,’” two high-ranking professors said.  “No,” I replied.  So I limped emotionally and academically to the end of the semester and dropped out.  I left embittered and replete with resentment.

Beth  Long, my priest, told me once that I might need three years for this trauma to wash out of my system.  In the meantime, she counseled, I needed to be kind to myself.  I knew that I needed to forgive the professors and the institution they represent, but could not do so yet.  The words of Jesus about the imperative of forgiveness continued to echo in my mind.  Like Paul, I knew what I needed to do yet could not do it.

I live in Athens, Georgia, a city built around The University of Georgia.  Sometimes I think that somebody should rename our local newspaper, the Athens Banner-Herald, the UGA Times.  Avoiding UGA is difficult in this town.  Accordingly, during the time immediately following my departure from the Department of History, I kept looking at buildings on the UGA campus.  These served as visual reminders of a very unpleasant and recent past, and thereby stirred up the poison welling up within my spirit.  I was becoming a negative person.  So I decided to stay away for a while, even staying away from the campus Episcopal Center, the route to which took me through campus.

I built a life which kept me away from the university at the center of town.  I did not visit the campus because I had no business there.  Meanwhile, the well of bitterness in my soul began to diminish as I stirred it up less often.  Once I blamed the university, but no longer.  The responsible parties are a few professors; theirs is the guilt.  Je les accuse.  They are accountable to God for what they did to me; judgment or forgiveness will reside in that court ultimately.  The higher wisdom will make the proper decision, a situation to which I do not object.  And I, like they, am subject to divine judgment and mercy; may God have mercy on us all.  As for UGA itself, it is responsible only the extent that it permitted them to commit their deed of academic injustice.  But the university is so large and bureaucratic as to be soulless, and therefore pointless to blame.  This does not mean, however, that UGA does not do much good and is bereft of faculty members who are also decent human beings; I have benefited from some of them.  Professors John Morrow and James C. Cobb are wonderful educators, scholars, and human beings, for example.  And I attend church and sing in a choir with others, all magnificent people.

I have thrived at small colleges.  My first postsecondary educational experience was at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  There I traded (mostly delightfully bad) jokes with my academic dean.  I completed my core curriculum and graduated then transferred to Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, where I had very supportive professors.  A few years later I entered Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, to pursue an M.A. in history.  The Department of History faculty members there were extremely helpful and supportive; I could not have succeeded without their encouragement and constructive criticism.  So I have pursued degree programs at four institutions of higher learning and graduated from three of them.  Those are the three of whom I have predominantly pleasant memories.

A few Sunday nights ago, I kept an appointment with a person at the UGA Episcopal Center.  I had not been inside any of those buildings for over a year.  Driving on campus to and from the Episcopal Center helped me to realize that my experiences of August 2005-December 2006 might as well have  occurred a lifetime ago.  I felt no resentment or anger against UGA.  I did notice, however, that I had little in common with the students at the Episcopal Center, aside from a denominational affiliation and a generally left-of-center outlook.

I do not know what form my relationship with The University of Georgia will take.  Yet I realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that was, was.  Time and circumstances have closed a chapter in my life, and I choose not to argue with that reality.  Life goes on, and so must I.

That said, I do learn from my time in the UGA Department of History.  I have gone out of my way to support my students as much as possible within professional standards and good ethics.  Imagine that my major professor’s name was John Q. Public.  I have sought to be the Anti-John Q. Public.  And I have succeeded.  I have not done unto others as Professor Public did unto me.  And, by grace, I never will.





This post reflects the workings of grace within me.  The journey is far from complete, but I have come a long way.  Here links to posts from previous stages in my journey:

Lent 2010:


November 7, 2010:



February 11, 2011:


April 27, 2011:





Another Related Link, Dated June 6, 2011:



A Related Link, Dated July 28, 2011:



A Related Link, Dated September 19, 2011:



A Related Link, Dated September 20, 2011:



There Is No Such Beauty As Where You Belong:



May 23, 2012:



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