She pulled up the system's faculty directory on her computer and found his number and office hours. There was also a photo - high forehead, sandy hair combed back, thin face and lips, penetrating eyes, a hint of a smile. She knew his face from his book jackets. Brains and looks, an unbeatable combination.
She rested her head against the back of her chair and tried to work through a phone conversation. Nothing came. She looked again at his faculty entry. Office hours on Monday. He’d probably be in. She sat up straight, told herself to behave like a dean, not a wimp. It was only a request.
She picked up her phone. Is this Professor Anderson?
It is. Who's calling?
She took a deep breath. Jennifer Jacobs from Hunter College.
Ah, the new dean at Macaulay. Congratulations.
She was taken aback. Thank you. I didn't expect you'd--
I love Macaulay, always follow what's happening. I even know about your g.e. task force.
She rolled her eyes. Then you know, uh, that it--
Didn't go well.
Yes. Professor Anderson, I won--
Call me Mark. You wonder where to go next.
Honestly, I have no idea where to go next. I don't want a repeat performance.
There was a long pause then he said, I have an idea but it may not be what you’re looking for.
Hey, I'm open to anything.
Okay. I don't think you’ll ever get wide agreement on specific content. The topic is too loaded.
So it seems.
But you could probably get agreement on a number of course themes. Then you could leave it up to each college to make up its own courses as long as they all treat the same themes.
Jen drew a large star on a piece of paper on her desk. Professor Anderson--
Mark. I hear an intellectual historian at work, and, you know, it sounds just right. If the task force can do that, we could probably get the system's Academic Senate on board.
Now the plunge, asking him to help.
If it would be useful, he continued, I could lead the discussion as a resident intellectual historian.
Whoosh. What a relief. Useful? It would be... She didn't want to sound too needy.
We meet Thursdays at 3 p.m. at Macaulay, but if you can't come then, I can change--
I'll see you Thursday, Jennifer.
From somewhere, she found the nerve to say, Jen.
Fine. Mark and Jen.
She hung up, put her hands to her cheeks, which she knew had turned pink from anxiety. Mark and Jen. He'd made it so simple, as if they were a team. Well, that worked.
She dashed off an email to the task force, enthusiastically announcing Thursday's visitor.