‘Let ‘er rip’: Professor Jurs cuts hair after 10 months

Douglas Jurs is an assistant professor of music focusing on the piano. In addition to teaching and performing internationally, Professor Jurs works across disciplines to connect music with other academic disciplines and walks of life.

So for people that don’t know, what’s going on with your hair?

I haven’t gotten it cut in about 11 months — maybe 10 months. Last January, I was on sabbatical and had performances all over the place, and then things suddenly stopped, in March, and I didn’t have any performing to do. I was actually needing a haircut before (the) quarantine hit last March, and I just thought it would be an opportunity to let it go for a while.

Was it just, ‘let it go’, or was there a deeper artistic meaning to it?

A little bit. It felt like the right time to do it. Things feel uncentered and … strange, and for me it felt like not taking care of my appearance fits with that sort of feeling. It’s also a little bit of a silly protest, in a way, on some of the things happening in the world. I’m actually getting it cut today (11/6) for the first time in 10 months.

Why are you getting it cut today? Why not continue the protest?

I sort of made these artificial markers for when I would get it cut. At first I wouldn’t get it cut until a vaccine was made readily available, and then I realized that could be a really long time, and so I also added a possibility for the election to happen, and perhaps things to change with leadership in our country. So it’s kind of funny, I was originally scheduled to have it cut on Tuesday, which was Election Day. (But when) I went into the haircut place and they had it on the wrong day, so I had to make it for today, and today’s the day it seems like we have a pretty definitive answer as far as who the next president’s going to be. I’m treating this as like my oracle. My hair is the oracle, so it is designed that today is the day it’s going to get cut, so that’s what’s happening.

Switching gears a little bit to this past semester: has it been as wild as your hair?

In some ways yes; it’s been challenging at times. Some people like this (and) they like what’s going on. My wife actually likes this. Other people think I look horrible. Perhaps some people are enjoying the current state of things; I don’t know many who enjoy having to wear masks and social distance.

It’s been a wild semester, yeah. It’s been a good semester in many ways, I feel. I’ve been really proud to work here and to have students who are so committed to making things work and teachers, just seeing them really committed to working in a challenging time. That’s been really nice, actually. It’s been hard, so it is somewhat symbolic getting it cut, right. There’s a feeling of, maybe things will start to change, slowly. Obviously coronavirus cases are the highest they’ve ever been these last couple days, but there’s this symbolic hope on my part that things will get better and maybe get put in the right direction.

Looking forward to the spring semester, are you hopeful that it will be less wild, more wild? Do you have any idea?

I think there’s a big possibility we might have to have similar protocols in place all semester. But I think the hope of it changing will get stronger and stronger, and I think we’ll start to see momentum — this is me predicting but my hope is that by late semester we’ll start to see that we can begin to think about returning to normal. I think I’ve seen on campus some creative ways people are working beyond the constraints that we’re faced with and doing some interesting things teaching-wise, and also on-campus students doing things. I think that will continue — we’ll continue to find pathways to do that, so I’m hopeful that it will continue to feel easier, and I think psychologically, knowing that we’re getting through it will be nice, as we move forward to next year.

Any final words about your hair or the semester, or both?

I encourage college students (to do this) — doing this professionally, I don’t look great. College is the time to do it, so I encourage you all to not cut your hair for three years. Just become hippies. I did a little bit of that — just a small experiment doing that myself, and I enjoyed it. I’m ready to cut it again, but let ‘er rip.

Professor Jurs before his haircut
Professor Jurs after his haircut. Photos courtesy of Doug Jurs