In the Spring semester, 2005 I took a sabbatical for the second time in my twenty-nine years as a professor at Western Michigan University (WMU). The dictionary defines a sabbatical as “release from normal teaching duties granted to a professor, as for study or travel.” When faculty, friends and relatives ask me what I did on my sabbatical, I first tell them that I spent the month of January in Aruba; basking in the sun, snorkeling, and playing poker. Everyone seems to like and understand that answer. Then I say that I am writing a brief history of the Faculty Specialist employee category, and I get blank stares in return. Two questions are most often asked: “What is a faculty specialist?” and “Why are you doing that?”

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