by Thomas C. Galligan, Jr.,
Dean and Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of
University of Tennessee College of Law
“Amanda, let’s talk about what you’ve
done as a dean that you’re glad you did,” Tony said.
“You mean as in
institutional advancement, appointments, diversity, and curricular
“No, I mean personal
“As in meeting alumni,
getting to know students– ”
interrupted. “I mean
stuff you did for you.”
“Like still teaching–
“No,” Tony stopped her
again, with no apparent sense of remorse or breach of
etiquette. “We talked
about that before.”
“Then, not like continuing
to write, I suppose,” Amanda’s voice had a lilt. She always liked being
quizzed by Tony. He
was, as her 14-year-old might say, ‘such a law professor.’
“We’ve sort of talked
about that, too,”
said Tony. “I’m
interested in what you’ve done in the last six years for you. Six years, right?”
“Yes,” Amanda nodded.
“Long time,” said
Tony. “But I want to
know what you’ve done for you that’s worked out. You know, what’s given you a
emphasized the word ‘you.’
“Hmmm,” Amanda pursed her lips and
furrowed her brow.
“Tough one?” Tony proudly asked.
“Just requires some
thought. Well, I will
admit that my first year or so as dean I missed more of my kids’
stuff than I had before.”
Amanda thought back.
“Like?” Tony sought to draw her
“Like school programs for
instance. Jamie had to
bear most of that burden.”
Amanda felt like she was confessing. Then she continued. “Actually, I was okay on the
stuff at night: band concerts, evening sports, school open
“I suppose school open
houses are a good time for a law school dean to show up in the
opined, with a trace of sarcasm.
“I’m not so devious, I am
really interested in what my kids are doing.” Amanda crossed her arms in
“I’m sure you are,” said
continued, “I was good about most of the evening activities but not
as good during the day.
And, I certainly tended to not just show up
unannounced in the day for things. And, in hindsight, I think
it was worse for the youngest two. They were in 4th
grade when we moved.
The older two were in 8th and 6th and I
had developed better habits with them over the years. For the younger two I just
sort of leaned on Jamie.
Jamie knew it and I think the kids did too.”
“So that’s not something
that sounds like it was good for you,” said Tony.
“It wasn’t, so I’ve really
tried since then to make an effort to show up more,” said
“You mean you don’t go to
everything?” Tony asked
in mock surprise.
“No, although I’ve heard
stories from other deans that they’ve never missed one of their
kids’ or family’s events,” said Amanda.
“That’s what they say and
more power to them but I’ve only tried to do better, not be at
“And the kids appreciate
it?” Tony asked.
“I don’t know; I think
so,” said Amanda. “But
it definitely makes me feel better.”
“I guess so, but as that
first year or so as dean went on, I felt like I was missing too much
of their lives. And,
even though I was professionally engaged and involved in a way I had
never been before as dean, I still felt like I was missing part of
my children’s lives and my own life. I think it’s us–Jamie and
me–but some people go on vacation and go out to dinner without their
kids. We like to take
our kids with us. We
like to go out with them. Anyway, I try harder now to
get to more of my kids’ events. Not all, but more. Sometimes I can’t. But other times I’ll try to
juggle things in advance to be able to go.”
“You are an admirable
parent,” said Tony, slightly bowing.
“Not in the least and I
will say that when one of the kids comes home and says: ‘We have a
choral concert or dance recital or mandatory field trip meeting
tomorrow night’ and I know I’m going to have a long hard day
beforehand I always ask: ‘How long have you known about this?’ But, I still try and make
“Okay. Go to more of your kids’
stuff. What else have
you done that’s good for you?”
“Sure, that’s a good
thing,” answered Amanda.
“You don’t sound
convinced,” said Tony.
“No,” I am. “I just think what works for
some people might not work for others and vice versa.”
“That’s deep,” said
“Well, what I mean is that
vacations can be tiring and while they’re great and we’ve taken them
and they do always seem to rejuvenate me, I need more.” Amanda said.
“Does Jamie still go fly
“Once a year with his
friend from Seattle .
That works for Jamie, just staring at the fly. And, the last two years he’s
taken one of the kids with him, too.” Amanda said. “Now, for me, real vacations
help. We tend to go to
Disney World. But,
these things help too.
These conferences we do together on torts. Getting to work on something
substantive with a friend is good for me.”
“You flatter me.” Tony said.
“I meant to; I never know
when I might need you,” Amanda smiled. “But it really is nice to
talk about torts stuff and recall why I love my subject.”
“Like the teaching and
writing we’ve already talked about?” Tony asked.
“And?” Tony continued. “What else do you do for
“Running,” Amanda said
“Yes. Running. I am still obsessive
compulsive about my running.”
“Even if it means less
time with the family or less time for scholarship?” Tony inquired.
“Yes. No question.” Amanda stated.
“How come? The exercise?”
“That’s a big part of it
but there’s more.”
Amanda considered her answer.
“Well, I sometimes say
that running keeps me as sane as I am. And, I think that’s
true. I still try to
run four or five days per week and I still try to do it in the
evening before I go home.
I think it helps me leave the day at the office.” Amanda said.
“A transition thing,” Tony
“Yes. You know, I’ve told
you before that my mother could lose her temper at the drop of a hat
or even at the movement of a hat without it dropping.” Amanda recalled how
embarrassed her mother’s outbursts would make her. “She’d even blow up with
guests in the house.”
“I remember you telling me
about her, but what’s that have to do with running?” Tony did not see the
“I’ll get there. I’ll get there. I think I overcompensate and
try not to show my anger at work, at least I try not to show
it to the person I’m angry at---”
“You mean,” Tony jumped in
with mock surprise, “you talk behind people’s backs?”
“Never. My twelve-year-old says I
should never do that.
Now, she admits that she does it but she does not recommend
talking behind backs for me.”
“Sounds like good advice
and good practice,” said Tony.
“Remind me to tell you about Jim later. But, now let’s get back to
“Sure thing,” Amanda
continued. “Anyway, I
try not to show my anger.
I get angry. I
just don’t blow up. The
running helps me get rid of some of that energy, so it doesn’t come
out sideways too much.
Yelling alone in the car helps, too. People think you’re singing
instead of screaming.”
“Very primal,” said
Tony. “Yell or flight,
but you call the flight part running.”
“Thanks for the
anthropological psychoanalysis, Doctor,” said Amanda.
“No problem,” Tony
“And, I basically love
it. When I go for a
long run on a Saturday, it clears my head and no matter how often I
do it, it makes me feel as if I’ve accomplished something---”
“You’re a dean. You administrate, whatever
that is; you teach; you raise money. And, it’s running that makes
you feel like you’ve accomplished something?” Tony seemed genuinely
curious and not just asking to ask.
“That other stuff is all
professional, or intellectual, or social. Running is physical. There’s a difference. And, even though I consider
myself a dedicated runner, I’m not great at it, as in winning races,
so it’s something I do more for myself than for external reward or
“Do you run alone?” Tony asked.
“I run alone and with
people. Just like when
we taught together at State
U. There are a group of faculty, staff, and
students who run together at our school. If no one else is running or
I’m out of town, I’ll run alone.” Amanda said. “Lee Bollinger, the
President of Columbia, says he runs alone and sorts things out. I think he’s right.
Alone, I sort things
out, at least I try to cut through some of the psychic noise. But, I do love to run with
“So running is a little
Tony said, more than asked.
“I suppose so,” said
“Now, don’t you worry
about what people might think?” Tony asked.
“You’re being oblique,”
said Amanda. “What do
“I mean don’t you worry
people will think you are in some runners’ clique, that the dean
favors runners?” Tony
was trying to push Amanda’s buttons.
“A little,” she honestly
“Really?” Tony was slightly surprised
that the button he pushed had opened a door.
“Yes. But, running is open to
anyone who wants to run.
At the start of every year, one of the runners in the College
sends out an email to everyone in the College asking if they want to
be on a runners’ email list and then he keeps those who respond
informed about when we’re running, where, and how far.”
“Sure, running’s open,”
said Tony, “but non-runners can’t participate. Aren’t they excluded?”
“Well, not excluded, but
you’re right. So, we
try not to talk about school too much. And, I try and do other
things that can and do include other people.” Amanda said.
“Noble of you,” sneered
“Don’t rub it in. It does bother me a
bit. But, the running
is important enough to me and the group does engender a sense of
community for some folks who value it. So, I do it.”
“And,” Tony correctly
noted, “you really value it.”
“I do,” said Amanda. “You know my first year as
dean I decided I probably had to cut back on my long runs and
shouldn’t plan on running a marathon that year. Then, a colleague of mine
and I found ourselves on slightly different sides of an issue. After we talked it through
and voted, I don’t think we still quite agreed. It was okay but, you know
there wasn’t what I’d call total consensus.”
“And this has what to do
with running?” Tony
“Well, one evening after
the vote, she called me up on the phone. She’s a runner. And, she asked me if I
wanted to go for a run.
I’d say it was in early December of my first year as dean
and, up to then, I’d been pretty much running alone. In any event, she called and
we went for about a five mile run. During the run, we decided
to do a marathon together.
And, we’ve been the best of friends since.”
“So?” Tony asked.
“So?” Amanda requested.
“You got it,” said
Amanda. “And now I’ve
got to go run. See