Why retire? Freedom & Fun

(05-13-2014)

Opinion by Dr. David Svaldi, President, Adams State University

I have announced my plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2015 Academic Year, but many ask, "Why?"

Some of my fondest recollections are of my childhood. Those were the years when summer break seemed to stretch out before me beyond the horizon. The drudgery of returning to school - just six short blocks down the street from our house - seemed eons away. I especially looked forward to having time to read, as it was my passion and primary occupation, apart from trying to construct a go-kart without any good parts (no wheels, especially) and playing sandlot baseball with my friends. The library was only four blocks away - about five minutes on my trusty Schwinn - and there were shelves and shelves of books to read. I could usually choose to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it - at least, as long as my mom agreed. I was good kid, so she usually did.

It is this freedom that I have increasingly missed as my career in higher education has entered the latter half of my fifth decade as a student, graduate student, faculty member, or administrator. I entered college in the fall of 1966 and have never really left! Forty-eight years is a long time to work in the same "industry." For the last 17 years, my calendar has driven my life, professional and personal, and a small but gradually louder voice has insistently tapped my shoulder and said: "When you retire, you can do what you want to do when you want to do it, and you won't even have to ask mom!"

So for those who keep asking - why are you retiring? - now you know. I am also of a certain age proven by a cardboard ID card I received from the government which certifies that I am no longer middle aged, but am now entering a twilight that presages old age. But the great thing for me is that there are still shelves and shelves of books to read, and most now exist in an electronic format that I can actually enlarge; on my I-Pad they are even backlit! Few of my friends are around to play sandlot ball with; anyway the game would just take too long, as we would have to hobble from base to base. But I do have a nearly new set of golf clubs that Virginia gave my for Father's day a year or two ago, and I am also seeking, not a go-kart, but a big truck to drive toward the horizon as I head to retirement to do the things I want to do when I want to do them (if Virginia says it is OK).