Google Analytics Tracking Code

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Connections: A River Runs TU It

Downtown San Antonio is barging its way to the borders of Trinity University. This month the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) opens the Museum Reach urban branch of the famous River Walk. The river project extends as far north as the Pearl Brewery (no longer a brewery) with a park branch extending to Hildebrand Drive by 2014.

The project, was unveiled early to a handful of twitterers, other social media masters, and me, on May 27. Trinity alum Andi Narvaez ('08), of KGB, planned this tour for important connectors in the community to get the word out, real-time-style, just days before the official opening. Steve Schauer of the SARA led the tweet group through the locks, dams, paths, and bridges. My connection was local journalist and wife of 20 years, Donna Tuttle - or as her colleagues refer to her: WriteOnTime.

That students are within a mile of the river walk will transform the student social and recreational experience. In the future, students may be able to walk to Brackenridge Park to catch a river taxi to go downtown. Additionally, nearby Alamo Heights has plans for a trolley to downtown as well. Any development along Broadway and up St. Mary's Street means greater access to more of San Antonio for TU students. When all is said and done, students will be able to walk, run, or ride over a 13 mile linear trail through, and south of, San Antonio, including a stretch on the Mission Trail.

The planning, engineering (including lock system for barges), attention to detail, artistry, sensitivity to ecological issues, adaptation of geographical features, and acknowledgement of the history and style of the River Walk makes this a project worth tweeting about. What's good for San Antonio will be good for Trinity. It's all connected.

Tour notes:
- The Twitter tour was entertaining to see. Young and middle-aged professionals, all donning white hard hats (exemptions were inexplicably made for the WOAI camera man - and Andi) had to navigate the river walkway while tweeting about the tour. The group met at the Tomatillo's afterward to talk or tweet about what they had tweeted about when they took their twitter tour.
- I could listen to Steve say "Lock and Dam" all night long. Bonus track - "You can see the dam structure." I would have tweeted that one.
- Steve showed us fish "lunkers" (though we can call them fish boxes, if the term lunker makes us uncomfortable) where fish can hang-out to get away from the sun. Who knew?
- People were able to purchase bricks with their names etched on them. They are placed alphabetically along the walk. One jumped out at me as the best: "Mr. Lucky's Tattoos." It should have been in ink and I think belonged in the L's rather than the M's, for obvious reasons, but who am I to judge. I should have bought a brick.
- There is a foot bridge that used to be at the San Antonio Museum of Art, but was moved someplace nearby and now is noted for having been where it no longer is.
- There is a piece of an old dam (Alamo Mill Dam) that protrudes from the water, except it is really a new addition to the old dam that is still underwater, but is illuminated at night.
- There is a new island to remind people of old islands in the river.
- There are four public restrooms along the walk, but businesses are supposed to grow along the street-level to accommodate tourists with more restrooms... until they undoubtedly post signs that say "restrooms for paying customers only."
- There are bridges along the way that have art including a sound exhibit, 25 hanging fish, and a grotto sculpture that looks like a pooping gnome. The grotto also features roots in the wall, even though they are really just made of concrete.
- One of the bridges is under Brooklyn Avenue and is called the Brooklyn Bridge.
- There is a bat colony under another bridge.
- Finally, there is a pavilion that overlooks the lock and dam area. It is called the "Lock and Dam Overlook Pavilion."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cryin' Time - A Family Affair

A downpour immediately following commencement for the class of 2009 couldn't dampen the mood after an emotional and touching ceremony in Laurie Auditorium on May 16, 2009. Dr. John Brazil presided over his final spring commencement and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medallion by Tim Hixon, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

he day belonged to the students and their families, however, as theyshared tears of pride, joy and a little sadness as graduates prepared to launch their exciting futures. Chloe Edmondson, below, delivered a stirring commencement address to her classmates and the Laurie Auditorium audience. Four professors presented diplomas to their children who were part of the graduating class. They were Curtis Brown (Lauren), Bill Christ (Jonathan), Pablo Martinez (Ana), and Chris Pursell (Janet). In the graduate ceremony Catherine Nickle, wife of Chaplain Stephen Nickle, received her Master of Arts degree in Education.

Likewise, Trustee Bob McClane presented the diploma of family friend Ryann Madden and Trustee and Great Uncle Paul Smith presented Peter Graves with his diploma. Two sisters from different schools received their diplomas consecutively (see Twin Peaks, below). Katherine Wright was awarded her degree from her grandfather, Trinity professor emeritus Paul Walthall (class of 1948). Katherine's mother Anne Wright was even involved in the ceremony, carrying the banner for the class of 1974. Finally, Taylor Woodard received a standing ovation from the faculty when she rode her scooter across the stage to receive her diploma from President Brazil.

ARAMARK Dining Services did quick work to move all of the food for the President's Reception afterward into the Coates University Center. After waiting out the rain, families made their way to spend some time together in celebration. Trinity University will miss the Class of 2009!

Twin Peaks

Jennifer Crawley's family had a dilemma on its hands: How to be two places at once. Their twin daughters would hit their academic peaks in separate cities on the same day. Their solution was to see if the women could graduate together on the same stage on May 16, 2009. Trinity University in San Antonio worked with officials at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota to pull it off. President John Brazil and the commencement committee agreed to the arrangement and Registrar Fred Rodriguez was sent Margaret Crawley's diploma prior to commencement. After Jennifer (pictured above, on the right) received her diploma from Dr. Brazil, VP for Academic Affairs Michael Fischer announced that Megan (pictured at left) would be awarded her degree as well. It was a special moment for the two schools, the two seniors, and especially, the Crawley family.

Rave On... A Scream Come True

When Diane Graves, Director of the Trinity Library, learned of library "Raves" taking place at campuses out east she knew who to contact. Unwittingly, her e-mail to senior Nick Shockey set the Trinity Rave into motion. Shockey, who had worked with Dr. Graves on committees and a project on open course-ware seized the moment. He informed Dr. Graves that he would work with her to ensure the Trinity iteration would be well-coordinated and damage-free. His first step was to figure out what she was talking about.

Shockey put his information literacy to use and researched the Raves. He then contacted student Josh Currie who has experience setting up audio equipment. Working with Dr. Graves they made logistical arrangements including taping down wires and even doing a run-through the night before the May 7 Rave. The result was a 15 minute musical scream-fest. Students have referred to it as one of the best things to happen at Trinity. The break, during finals week, provided a great release for students who were studying in the Coates Library. Well over 200 students participated. Click here to see the video! Currie says he and Shockey were nervous because their reputations were on the line. They weren't worried about getting in trouble, rather, they weren't sure a crowd would materialize.

Students have been trying to make this happen for at least 15 years. It was promoted as a primal scream and organized by ASR in the past. Signs and word-of-mouth only yielded crowds of a dozen or so screaming students. This year's event worked because word was spread through the social networking site Facebook. No doubt, its YouTube documentation will aid in growing the event in the future. Currie, who will also be the Trinitonian editor next year, already has plans for a December Rave. Diane G.Raves has only herself, and a couple resourceful students to thank.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twilight Falling

Trinity University celebrated its senior class with the new Twilight at Trinity senior banquet on Thursday, May 14, 2009. The event honored seniors with one last gathering before families start arriving in full for the May 16 commencement. Seniors enjoyed the perfect weather at a setting near the Storch Memorial Library that overlooked San Antonio as the sun set, literally and figuratively for the class of 2009.

The event was sponsored by the Residential Life Office and Alumni Relations. A committee of staff members and seniors from Ambassadors and ASR planned the event. Josh Brack and Wanda Olson from Residential Life made most of the arrangements for the over 225 seniors in attendance. President Brazil, several vice presidents, and some trustees, at a dinner elsewhere on campus for the spring board meeting and commencement, stopped by to visit with the students.

"Twilight" featured a message board for students to send texts (touching and amusing: "I have swine flu and I sneezed on the steak.") to their friends and classmates. The local jazz band St. Vincent and the Grenadines, featuring Michael and Patrick Shay ('03) entertained while students sipped beer and wine and dined on a dinner of steak and salmon prepared by ARAMARK. See the slide show at right for more photos. Click and the pictures will appear full screen for better viewing as a slide show.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pig Sty: A Glimpse Inside the Emergency Operations Center

The Swine Flu epidemic afforded the Trinity Crisis Management Team (CMT) an opportunity to test some of the procedures that have been developed over the last several years for just such a scenario.

Most Universities have had crisis teams in place for some time. Former VP at Trinity, Gage Paine, established here around 2001. Katrina as well as the Virginia Tech crisis forced everyone to take a closer look at their own procedures, and like us, many institutions have ramped up their crisis teams. At Trinity, under the guidance of VP Felicia Lee, the team has refined procedures (a never-ending task), bolstered campus alerts (such as TU-alert), practiced for potential scenarios, and developed a web page to prepare people for an emergency.

The CMT convened when news of the H1N1 virus, and its potential to become a major pandemic, first broke. The CMT has an emergency operations center on campus that is normally used as a meeting room. The team quickly assumed control of that room and scheduled daily morning meetings to discuss the possible crisis. In an emergency such as this, the CMT, and others from affected offices (Athletics, International Programs) are afforded an opportunity to be thoughtful and proactive. Gary Neal, director of Counseling and Health Services, assumed the role of incident commander. Jackie Bevilacqua led the enormous Health Services effort to see, test, and assure the many students who reported potential flu cases.

University Communications quickly posted a web page as a source of information for all community members, including parents. Fewer than five e-mails were sent to the Trinity community about the epidemic and the University response.

The CMT quickly identified the priorities to be student and employee health and safety, thorough and measured communications, and contingency planning for worst-case scenarios. These contingencies included closing the campus, providing housing for those who couldn't travel, cancelling classes or finals, and cancelling events, and business continuity. Fortunately, these plans have remained on the shelf and the University has continued to operate under normal conditions.

The challenge in situations such as this is to be reactive, decisive, and open while not over-reacting or being inert. The leadership of Dr. Neal with strong assistance from Felicia Lee and Environmental Safety Coordinator Hal Lovejoy was critical in managing this situation. As always, the team learned where there are holes and where it can improve. By having a strong team in place, however, the community should feel some assurance that the efforts to strengthen this important team will benefit all of us in times of crisis. How did the CMT do? Take the poll at right to let us know.

Shooting Spree

Private colleges and universities recently prevailed, as lawmakers amending a proposed Texas law that would prohibit institutions of higher education from banning the carrying of licensed concealed handguns on campuses. Essentially, the law was proposed so employees, guests, and students over 21 with licenses, could carry weapons in order to defend themselves and others from active shooters such as those who have massacred others at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois.

Proponents cite similar laws in other states and generally safe records of those licensed to carry weapons. In recent cases, supporters argue, students or staffers could have stopped the carnage had they been carrying weapons.

Opponents argue that having guns on campus are more likely to bring about violence that has otherwise been avoided. Trinity's student government has made this case, passing its own resolution and forwarding it to lawmakers. The consensus on our campus is that we don't need this law. With weapons banned from residence halls, as provided in the amended legislation, few students, and only those who are 21 and licensed, would have guns. Most would have to store those in vehicles on campus and the security of vehicles here is not guaranteed. There is probably a greater fear that guns in the wrong hands on campus would be dangerous.

Indeed, mixing guns with a residential campus environment seems like a step backwards in time:
- Becoming a wild west gun-slinging University simply increases chances of the poorly trained or the poorly aimed taking shooting innocent victims.
- A student who is shooting a video, is going for a pen, or is just horsing around could be mistaken as an active shooter.
- The community should be more concerned about accidental shootings when horse-play, guns, and alcohol are mixed together - either on or off campus.
- College students are in a high-stress environment. Permitting handguns, that could be used in weak moments when suicide seems like a good option, is scary as well. (While 3% of our students report seriously considering suicide, 17% say they have thought about it, but wouldn't act on it.) Access and availability of methods to carry out self-harm are variables in suicides.
- Do we want our law enforcement officers deciding whether or not one of our students is the good guy or the bad guy during a reported incident?
- And really, even if we can't guarantee it, don't we want our campuses in this country to be bastions of free-thinking and civil discourse rather than places where students wonder whether or not going too far in an argument could lead to getting shot?

One other primary issue on this topic is whether or not private institutions can determine their own policies. Just as a private University could ban hard liquor or any liquor, shouldn't it be permitted to ban weapons? Those who wish to pack heat in their classes can choose to attend public institutions if this bill passes. Others should have a chance to attend classes in a gun-free environment. Places like Trinity can offer that option.

There is something romantic and heroic about defending ones self or others against a lunatic with a gun. But people can go to the movies for that. On campus? Let's be glad that for now, we can decide what kind of campus environment we support.

Breakfasts of Champions

Trinity staff members serve students at the luau-themed Midnight Breakfast on Tuesday night, May 5. The breakfast is a hit in the fall during finals, so organizer Wanda Olson, Associate Director of Residential Life organized the program for the spring to see how students would respond. Over 500 students later the event appeared to be a success. Lisa Chapa and Cecily Cassidy, Residential Life secretaries, were instrumental in planning the event.

Below, Rob Sender and Adam Cason, outgoing ASR officers - flank their advisor and a group cinnamon roll - while incoming officers Chantal VanEsch and Emily Faber are shown at right. The May 4 transition brunch is an annual tradition between ASR officers when the shift of power switches from student government to student government. The roll is only four pounds and is served at Lulu's cafe and bakery on Main Street.