An ordinary Friday night, spent watching television after a hectic week, quickly took a turn for the worse for Oklahoma Christian University professor Hannah Bingham Brunner, affectionately known by students as “BB.”
On Friday, March 1, as many students focused their minds on upcoming Spring Sing performances, Bingham received an email explaining she would likely lose her job as a visiting professor this semester. This news recently became a reality as Bingham now plans to continue her career and education at Oklahoma State University as a teaching assistant this fall, while pursuing her Ph.D. in applied linguistics.
Q: Can you describe the moment when you found out about losing your job?
“It was really shocking. I had kind of been thinking about Oklahoma Christian as a long-term [job], even though I wasn’t tenure-tracked. It rattled me to think that I might not have a job here anymore.”
Q: How are you processing the loss of your job?
“It’s been a while, so I’ve had time to process it now. I found another position to go to at Oklahoma State University. It’s good that was a possibility because I could get in the deadline for graduate assistantships at OSU. It’s been rough because I just keep thinking about all of the people I’m going to miss here. It feels like everything is the last ‘this’ or the last ‘that.’ In just the middle of a regular day of class, I can get kind of sad all of a sudden when I realize I might not see somebody again for a while.”
Q: What reason did the university provide for the loss of your job?
“It was financial. We’ve got an enrollment gap and a budget gap, and they are trying to fill that. An email probably wasn’t the best way to find out that I didn’t have a job. It kind of felt last minute.”
Q: Do you think that you would ever consider working at Oklahoma Christian again?
“I would because it’s a special place. If I was offered something tenure-tracked, I probably would. I wouldn’t want to take a non-tenure-tracked position again. But, Oklahoma Christian is a special place, and there are special people here. Working at your alma mater, it’s good, but then when you don’t work there anymore it’s complicated. But, I still love Oklahoma Christian, and I love the people here. I’ll still come by the Brew. I hope Oklahoma Christian gets through this financial rough patch like they’ve gotten through the others, and hopefully, it remains a special place for students.”
Q: Will you move to Stillwater?
“No. My husband still works in Oklahoma City, and it took him a long time to find that job. We are still living in Oklahoma City. I will be commuting to Stillwater as I am now for school. My parents live in Guthrie, so I may stay with them sometimes since that’s a little closer than my house.”
Q: What will you miss the most about working at Oklahoma Christian?
“I think leaving these groups of students is probably the hardest part for me. I am involved with Phi, Beam chapel, Safe at Home, the Black Student Union and, of course, the English department. A lot of these students that I’ve invested within the last few years haven’t all graduated, so I haven’t gotten to see them finish their journey here, and I’m not as much a part of that journey anymore. I’m definitely going to miss that.”
Q: Do you already know which classes you’re going to teach at Oklahoma State University?
“It’ll probably be composition classes. That’s what they usually have teaching assistants do. It’s called a teaching assistantship, but in the English department, it’s really kind of like an adjunct. You have your own classrooms; you’re just not a professor. So, in that way, it is a weird step down from being a professor to being an adjunct again. But, since I’m getting my Ph.D., that’s what most students are doing anyway. I’m not the stand-out, super young professor anymore.”
Q: What is one of your favorite memories or favorite aspects of working at Oklahoma Christian?
“I’ve really enjoyed the Brew being here. Anytime I don’t want to sit in my office grading anymore, I can just walk around the corner and see like 10 current or former students and chat with them, help them with something or hear about their lives. Being involved with all of the groups I’ve mentioned, especially Safe at Home, has just been monumental for me. They are such an important group on campus.”