Swimming Pool Memories I (or How I Got Tenure!)

By Leslie

I used to love to swim – and swim I did, virtually every day, in the Washington University pool in St Louis. A certain camaraderie developed with those who shared adjacent lockers and swam at the same time in adjacent lanes. Two women became treasured friends and confidantes, one a botanist and the other a psychologist. They shared my struggles “across town at St Louis University” with a department chairman who believed that women belonged only in the home.

When my promotion to Associate professor was granted, he alone, of all the Promotions Committee members, objected to granting me tenure. And so it was withheld. But not for long. The news trickled out and a faculty committee spontaneously formed – including pharmacology, law and other professors. A letter, supporting tenure for my position, with my credentials and CV, was sent to the President of the University.

Shortly thereafter, one weekday morning, I received a call from the University President’s office – commanding my presence the following morning. And appear I did. I entered the office with the Medical School Dean and University President present. No words were wasted: “Dr Barton, tenure is granted.”

Overjoyed, I hugged my husband who had escorted me and . . . headed to the Washington University Pool. After a very vigorous swim, my two friends and I found ourselves showering together. I related the news. We hugged; we danced; we shared the excitement – and only belatedly remembered that we were in the shower and it was time to dress and get on with our lives. But this was a day, both within the pool and without, that I would never forget!

July 2014

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