The Fellows Update has returned as a quarterly Sightlines feature that will focus on a Fellow, what he or she is doing today, and how to make contact. USITT Fellows provide an invaluable resource of experience and institutional memory that can be of service to any member. This month’s article is by Bill Browning, USITT Fellow, educator and theatrical professional.
Frequently in the last year, I’ve been asked, “Hey, Bill, what are you doing in retirement?” Without taking time to think, I answer, “Whatever I want!”
Yes, after a 40-plus year career in higher education and technical theatre, I officially retired on Jan. 15, 2018. In my career, I spent one year at San Francisco State University, one year at Centre College of Kentucky, three at Wright State University, 10 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the final 28 years of my career were spent at the University of Delaware. One of the remarkable perks I received at the University of Delaware was a full year sabbatical preceding my official retirement date, so I have really been retired for two years for all practical purposes. What’s more, I taught mostly online classes during my last two or three years prior to that, which served nicely as a way to ease into retirement.
Aside from the hundreds of theatrical productions and thousands of students, the most dominant theme running through my career has been the USITT. And that theme continues in retirement. I have attended nearly every Conference since the Anaheim Conference in 1974. I have served 10 years on the Conference Committee, four terms as a director at large on the board, and most recently I was privileged to serve as the interim editor of TD&T. Over the course of my career, I have spent a great deal of my time in service to the USITT and its members, but I have personally received back so much more from the Institute. The Conference sessions were a source of continued learning and skill refinements. The show floors not only kept me abreast of the current trends in the industry but also served as a source of inspiration. And beyond all of that is the members, the friends and acquaintances that I see every year who have enriched my life beyond measure. Thank you, USITT.
So back to the original question, “Hey, Bill, what are you doing in retirement?” My smart ass answer is pretty much the case. Most days I wake up and ask, “What shall I do today?” Then before I know it, it’s time to go to bed. It seems that I have no end of projects and ideas to keep me busy. I often wonder how I ever found time to work in a job. To complicate matters, my wife and I bought a vacation home up in Maine in an area that we had been vacationing at since 1998. Now that we are retired, we can spend May through October in Maine and the winter in Delaware. Oh, BTW (that’s “by the way” for those that don’t text), in the year of my retirement sabbatical I built a small shop in my home in Delaware over the winter, and I built another one in the basement of my house in Maine over the summer. Lots of benches, drawers, tool stands, etc. I am currently exploring anything to do with wood lathes! See the photo above.
I look forward to seeing all my fellow Fellows and friends in Louisville!