Reflections From Our Outgoing Editor, Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman

Note: this blog post was originally published on our career advice column on Inside Higher Ed (here). Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond, and a Black queer nonbinary scholar-activist. They are the founder and outgoing editor of Conditionally Accepted. Dr. Victor Ray is our new editor; see his introductory blog post here.

This essay serves as my last as editor of “Conditionally Accepted,” a weekly career advice column on Inside Higher Ed for scholars on the margins of academe. I am pleased to announce that my friend, colleague and co-conspirator Victor Ray has officially assumed the position of editor of “Conditionally Accepted” as I step down to focus on other activities. This isn’t goodbye, for I will remain a regular contributor to the column.

At the same time, this change in editorship provides an opportunity to pause and consider how far ConditionallyAccepted.com has come since its inception as a blog in July 2013. It has certainly beaten the odds by not only surviving but also continuing to grow years past the average lifespan of most blogs. In fact, we are fortunate to simply have one editor pass the reins to another. That is an incredible feat that I intend to celebrate. This is the first thing I’ve ever created to actually exist beyond my leadership. I am confident in Victor’s forthcoming tenure as editor — both to keep “my baby” alive and to help it grow in new ways and move in new directions.

Admittedly, I am doing my best to celebrate this milestone in the life of “Conditionally Accepted.” It would be disingenuous to paint an entirely positive picture of this major decision, with no second thoughts or regrets. I feel that some unfinished business still remains. I want to see more essays by Latinx scholars, First Nation scholars, scholars with disabilities, fat scholars, Asian and Asian-American scholars, first-gen and working-class scholars, and intersex scholars. I’ll never feel we did enough to amplify the voices of women of color and queer and trans academics. But at the nudging of my “Conditionally Accepted” team and other friends and colleagues, I’ll make an effort to run a victory lap.

Through “Conditionally Accepted,” I have created a platform to amplify the voices of oppressed scholars like myself, to advocate for justice in academe and to aggravate the academic status quo. I successfully carved out a space on a mainstream, national higher education news site to regularly discuss injustice in the ivory tower. Every Friday morning over the past two years, Inside Higher Ed readers were faced with a tiny black logo featuring the word “Accepted*” that directs them to another weekly dose of calling out academic bullshit (predictably hostile comments be damned).

For me, this milestone is particularly significant because it took guts to create and maintain “Conditionally Accepted,” to publicly do work that is activist in nature. For the very foundation of my graduate training was the deradicalization of grad students; graduate school professors even made explicit their efforts to “beat the activist out” of me as part of the department’s professional socialization. The better part of my time as a tenure-track professor has been consumed with fear that I would be fired or denied tenure over something that I’d written in the column. Though traumatizing, the experiences that I’ve described in my writing did not silence or paralyze me; rather, they fueled my passion for shining a light on the ways in which oppression pervades the ivory tower just as it does beyond it.

I can humbly outline the ways in which “Conditionally Accepted” has been significant for other marginalized scholars, as well. Since 2013, we’ve published nearly 400 essays by roughly 115 different writers. More than 100 writers have shared their critiques, pains and joys, and advice with the world — all through a blog I created fresh out of graduate school. Each piece is read between 1,000 and 8,000 times via our Inside Higher Ed column (with one outlier at 20,000 hits) — not to mention the thousands of readers who read our posts on our home site, ConditionallyAccepted.com.

As a quantitative researcher, I like to see those kinds of numbers. But I am equally floored by the responses I have received — mostly in the form of fan mail — that cannot easily be quantified. I’ve received dozens of emails thanking me for my work on “Conditionally Accepted,” for creating a platform for marginalized scholars, for giving voice to hurts so many of us typically suffer with in silence. My goal of creating a space to air the traumatizing experiences I’ve endured has been realized again and again through my own writing and my invitation to dozens of other marginalized scholars to write, as well.

Introducing The New Editor Of “Conditionally Accepted”

Going forward, I am confident in Victor Ray’s abilities to offer sound critiques of organizations and social systems. Victor is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a public intellectual and an activist. Over the years, he has written several pieces that astutely outline the ways in which racism pervades the academy. He has also exercised his critical voice, expertise and courage on other platforms like Newsweek, Gawker and Boston Review, sparking the beginnings of a career as a respected public scholar.

Victor offers structural criticism of higher education, and I believe this is the direction in which “Conditionally Accepted” urgently needs to go. He would probably disagree with me on this, but I firmly believe he is far braver and wiser than I am. I feel honored that he has agreed to step up to shepherd “Conditionally Accepted” in the years to come.

Thank you, Victor. And thank you to other regular contributors to “Conditionally Accepted”: Jeana Jorgensen, Jackson Wright Shultz, J. E. Sumerau and Manya Whitaker. Thank you to our former assistant editor, Sonya Satinsky, who helped me to launch “Conditionally Accepted.” Thank you to the many guest writers over the past four years for lending us your voices, your stories and your joys and pains. Thank you to friends and colleagues who supported me on this journey, regularly lifting me up as I felt afraid that this blog would cost me my job. Thank you to Scott Jaschik, Sarah Hardesty Bray and other staff members at Inside Higher Ed for taking a chance on us and this project, for giving us a platform, and for continuing to support us during this transition. And, of course, thank you to our loyal readers, followers and supportive allies.

See y’all soon.