Tracy Floreani accepts job at Oklahoma City University

Story by Kyle Davis

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When Associate Professor of English Tracy Floreani was hired at Baker, it was a one-year situation.

She was living in Oklahoma with her now husband and decided not to relocate to Kansas for just one year. Instead, they commuted, more than 600 miles every other week, to and from Kansas and Oklahoma.

That was 10 years ago, and for the first time in 10 years, Floreani will not be making the drive from state to state this fall, as she has accepted a position in the English department at Oklahoma City University.

“I feel like I came into my professional self (at Baker) so, yeah it’s hard to leave,” Floreani said. “And even before I got hired at Baker I lived in Lawrence for a long time, so it’s very hard to leave that area.”

Floreani sent an e-mail letter to the Baker community Tuesday afternoon to address leaving and to give thanks to the administration, staff, faculty and students she had gotten to know throughout the last 10 years.

“The school where I will teach next fall is also a small, United Methodist-affiliated liberal arts university. I’m so glad that the job that takes me away from Baker is in a similar community-oriented environment,” Floreani wrote in the e-mail. “I’m quite aware that Baker has helped to make me the instructor that I am, and I will always be grateful for that.”

Floreani became aware of the job while attending a conference she attends every year, this year in Pennsylvania. There, she met an acquaintance from Oklahoma who suggested Floreani apply for the job.

“It was a complete coincidence that she knew I had connections in Oklahoma and she had been approached about the job and didn’t want it,” Floreani said. “If I wouldn’t have gone to that conference, I probably wouldn’t even had heard about it.”

The conference was in early April, so the whole process happened within a span of about five weeks.

Floreani said it is not typical for an academic job to be advertised so late in the year, as most are advertised in the fall or early winter and hires are usually made by March.

“I felt like it was an opportunity I had to at least look into, and the more I looked into it, the more it just seemed like a really good fit,” she said.

Floreani said because the decision happened so late, she would have originally liked to teach at Baker in the fall and then make the transition, however, it was clear OCU wanted her to start in August.

Floreani said she will miss many things about Baker, but she is especially concerned about leaving two aspects of the university.

“The two things I’m most concerned about leaving are the social justice program, which is just launching and I was very invested in that, and the English program because Lucy Price’s retirement is already leaving the English department shorthanded,” she said. “So, I feel a strong sense of duty to that department, and feel really badly about the timing of this, but they’ve all been really supportive.”

In the university-wide e-mail, Floreani discussed the role the students at Baker have played during her time in Baldwin City.

"You are the hardest ones to leave," Floreani wrote. "Sometimes I look out on a classroom full of bright, young people working with each other on their writing or trying to figure out the meaning of a poem, and I think, ‘What a cool job I have.' There's no part of my job I like better than being in a classroom with you, having brainy conversations. If I haven't had you in a class yet, I'm truly sorry I'll miss that opportunity."<br/>