The higher ed commencement season starts this weekend — here's the schedule if you missed it — and that means the end of the academic year for tens of thousands of area college students.
It also marks the end of some higher ed careers. Yep, retirements. 'Tis the season for that, too.
If you pay close attention to my local higher ed coverage, you've probably noticed that Randy Parker will retire as GTCC's president July 31 after nearly eight years. GTCC was Parker's second community college presidency after seven years at Vance-Granville CC in Henderson. Here's the story I wrote when Parker announced his departure back in January. The GTCC board is well into its search for a new president. Here is the college's official presidential search page.
Also retiring is Adrienne Israel, who's leaving Guilford College after 35 years. Israel was Guilford's provost and academic dean for 13 years until 2015. She'll retire as a history professor and chair of the college's African American Studies department, which she helped start. Long before coming to Guilford, Israel was a leader in the student protests at Howard University in 1968. I heard her talk about her experiences at an MLK Day event in January at the college. Here's my report.
Lastly, Michael Parker is retiring from UNCG after 27 years there. Parker has taught in the university's MFA Writing Program since 1992 and was the first UNCG faculty member to hold the Nicholas and Nancy Vacc Distinguished Professorship. Parker, now with 10 novels under his literary belt, arguably is the best-known and most accomplished writer among all of the novelists, poets and journalists employed at colleges and universities in the area.
UNCG published two things this week about Parker: a nice write-up in which he talks about writing and his UNCG years and a Q&A in which he talks about some of his favorite books. One of the highlights of my occasional editing career was working on this tribute Parker wrote in 2017 about the late MFA Writing Program director Jim Clark. By "editing" in this case, I mean that I scanned his essay for bad words (and found none) and tweaked a couple of things to conform to Associated Press style. C'mon, it's not like I'm going to argue word choice with the guy.
If you want to catch Parker before he relocates to Texas, he has two appearances coming up.
• At 7 p.m. Friday, he'll read from his latest novel, "Prairie Fever," at the UNCG Alumni House. A reception follows.
• Parker is on the schedule of the upcoming Greensboro Bound literary festival. He'll chat with novelist and East Carolina University professor Liza Wieland at noon May 19 in the Upstage Cabaret at Triad Stage in downtown Greensboro.
Both events are free and open to the public.
P.S. Here's a retirement that's a little off-topic but it's worth noting anyway: John Batchelor, the N&R's long-time restaurant critic, is 86'ing his column after more than 1,000 reviews. In his farewell column, he lists some of his favorite local spots, none of which will come as any surprise to anyone who has read his work over the years. He has a blog, so he's not giving up the restaurant beat entirely.
Best of luck to John Batchelor. He had a great run at the N&R.