Professors to take sabbaticals this spring

By Tristan Davis – Features Editor

Ever since he’s been teaching a course on the history and evolution of video games, Lasell College Radio General Manager and communication professor Dr. Brian Wardyga just hasn’t been able to find a textbook that suits his class.

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Dr. Brian Wardyga is among a handful of professors to take sabbaticals this spring semester. Photo by Michael Bueno 

“There are a lot of good books out there about the history, but they’re just all words and no graphs or illustrations. This is very visual medium. It screams graphics and screenshots from games,” said Wardyga.

Instead of waiting for a publisher to manufacture a book worth using, Wardyga decided to take matters into his own hands. This spring semester, he’ll be taking a sabbatical and devoting his time to researching, writing, and publishing his own textbook. He’s less excited about it than you’d think, however.

“Honestly, it’s not something that I wanted to do. It’s something I had to do, because no matter how many times I’ve looked at different textbooks over the years, there just is no book on the market that fits my curriculum for my video games class, the way I like to teach it,” he said.

Rather than continue teaching his classes during the spring, Wardyga will devote almost eight hours a day to his writing. Since applying for his sabbatical last year, he’s over seven chapters in. Each chapter consists of roughly 8,000 words, and each page takes almost two hours to finish.

In order to get a head start on the book prior to his sabbatical, Wardyga has devoted his off days from teaching to working on the textbook.

“There are some days where I sit at that computer for 12 straight hours and it’s just not good. Even though I don’t feel pain or anything, I know it’s not good to sit like that,” he said.

In hopes of his book being found by online searches, Wardyga thought it was best to keep the title simple. He said, “I’m calling it the ‘Video Games Textbook’ because I want it to be as literal as possible, but I’ve also considered calling it the ‘Textbook on Video Games.’”

Wardyga is responsible for finding a replacement to take over as WLAS General Manager for the spring semester. Following his decision to choose professor of communication Rick Beyer, Wardyga said, “He was my first pick for replacing me. I’ve gotten good feedback from students, he’s struck me as a person who could handle the job.”

For a job that requires so much time and effort, getting compensated is a key aspect. The sabbatical will be a paid leave from the college, but Wardyga could benefit from publishing the book on his own.

“If I end up publishing it myself, obviously I’ll pay for the manufacturing and distribution and make a profit off of that. If I go through a publisher, the typical author only gets about 10 to 15 percent of the revenue,” he said.

Although part of the sabbatical is to have time away, don’t be surprised to see Wardyga around campus in the spring.

“I might be poking around campus during my breaks from the book to socialize and get away from my computer screen,” he said.

Wardyga isn’t the only professor at Lasell involved in alternative research this spring. Three other members of faculty have devoted their time to off-campus work – Professors Sarah Abbott, Marsha Mirkin, and Sharyn Lowenstein.

Professor Abbott teaches courses for the criminal justice department. She’ll be conducting research involving police attitudes towards mental health patients. “Learning and assessing mental health and police partnerships is amazing,” said Abbott.

Professors Marsha Mirkin and Sharyn Lowenstein will also take on alternative work.

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