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Monday, October 25, 2010

Strides: Intestinal Fortitude

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. Today's post features Morgan Jackson a sophomore Biology major with a Sociology minor from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ben Newhouse is the Associate Director of Campus & Community Involvement. He graduated from trinity 1999. They had not known about their common ground. They do now.

Morgan Jackson
Why do you run?
I played varsity soccer and swam on the varsity team in high school and swam and played soccer while dancing all throughout my life. So I have always run to stay in shape for those activities but when I got to college I knew I wasn't going to do either at the collegiate level. I got the e-mail from Dean Tuttle about running a half marathon and decided to give it a shot. I ran the half marathon last year and will do it again this year and hopefully many years to come.

Talk about how running relates to your health issues.
Well the summer before my senior year of high school I started having excruciating stomach pain for three weeks and saw several doctors before being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. So during that initial three weeks I could barely walk let alone run or do any of my favored activities so that set me back a little bit. Currently I haven't had many issues with my Crohn's, however, sometimes when I run I do experience some pain. Unfortunately, it often does cause me to have to stop and walk a bit before I can resume my run. Thankfully, it doesn't affect me on every run and so most runs I am able to run like normal.

What's on your running playlist?
As far as my music play list goes I don't really have one. I tend to just put my iPod on shuffle and skip the songs that aren't working for that moment. However, I do like to listen to a lot of Trapt, Skillet, A Bird a Sparrow, The Hit, Maroon 5 and Mayday Parade. Anything with a steady and peppy beat is good.

Ben Newhouse
Why do you run?
I was never a runner, and I got tired of all the excuses I was using for not getting out there. So I chose to do something drastic by signing up for the half marathon. My motivation is--I may not look the part, but I'm out there.

How is your experience training a second time?
Last year, 13.1 miles was intimidating. It's amazing how much more confidently I train knowing that I succeeded last year. I wish I could pass that knowledge on to the first time runners. I know they can make it!

Tell me about Crohn's and how it relates to your running?
Crohn's disease is a GI disorder that causes a person's immune system to attack their own body, which in short turns the intestines into Swiss cheese if untreated. Symptoms include intense abdominal pain, rapid weight loss, vomiting, and well, you get the picture. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn's. I had lost 80 pounds in 3 months because I couldn't keep anything down. Fortunately, with surgery and ongoing treatment, I have been relatively symptom-free (or as Crohnies call it, flare-free) ever since. Many don't fare as well and have endured repeated surgeries and aggressive drug therapy with little to no relief. Five years ago, I was so weak that I could barely walk. Today, I run because I understand that the ability to do so is a gift. I run because so many of my fellow Crohnies are still too sick to join me.

What is the best thing about running with students?
I love hearing about their week--the successes, the challenges, and the drama. I find that I am much better listener during runs because talking would waste precious oxygen.

Editors Note: Student Bart Davis has gathered about 12 students to run the half marathon to raise money for Crohn's research. Bart has family members with the disease. Ben Newhouse is helping the group.The Dean's Half Marathon Challenge runs for the San Antonio Food Bank.

Glory Day

This post is really just a photographic musing of the inauguration of President Dennis Ahlburg as Trinity's 18th president. The ceremony was on October 22, 2010. I actually tweeted out the photo at right under the heading of "Modern President." It just seemed funny to me to see the man of the hour in these antique robes chatting on his cell phone. I think it is called cognitive dissonance. In reality, I think he was talking to a local radio reporter. This was just prior to the ceremony. President Ahlburg is modern in many ways, though he is probably less tied to technology than some of his VPs.

This next photo shows part of the crowd of the assembled representatives from other institutions and the faculty. One thing I noted from my vantage point on the platform party was that there was no correlation between the speaker or the size of the academic regalia on one's head and taking a little snooze. It did seem to that there was a correlation between age and inner eyelid gazing. I asked a younger professor for her view of the ceremony. i think she summed up the feelings of many when she said it was really interesting and more spirited than she anticipated. I completely agree. As formal ceremonies go, this felt down-to-earth, fun, and interesting. I should note that a colleague of mine strongly suggested it would be inappropriate to be on the platform party taking photos and tweeting. Duh. I know that NOW. I did snap this on the way out, which explains the picture quality. Let's just say, lots of good photos and Tweet opportunities were missed.
Another fun image included the energetic and angelic/impish Master Benjamin (in coat and tie, below) adding youth to the inauguration - even outlasting some of the robed guests in stamina. San Antonio mayor Julian Castro (southeast photo below, left) and student government president Emmalee Bannon (southeast photo below right), offered welcoming remarks as did Carmen Garza, representing the staff. I loved that the student and the secretary more than held their own against other more experienced orators.

Probably the best part of the day was the dinner honoring the President. It featured speakers who were friends of Dennis and Penelope from Australia and Minnesota and some nice words by Board Chairman Walter Huntley and Trinity first Lady Penelope Harley in a hat reflecting the Australian couture theme. The President had the air of a person who had just been made official, based on the tie and socks he chose for the event. As with the ceremonies earlier, it signaled that pomp and formality could co-exist with fun and frivolity. That's how it can and should be in our work. I think we can take our cue from our newly official leader.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trinity Interrupted: Learning Outcomes

Elise Goen almost always starts what she finishes. She came to Trinity in 2006 and should have graduated last May. She actually did graduate on time, but as an Oklahoma Sooner. Her destiny wasn't to finish here, but Trinity is proud of her anyway. If we could give her half a degree, I swear we would.

I was shocked when I saw the transfer application for Elise, who was studying abroad in Poland. I immediately called her mother, Patty (above right) in College Station to see if there was some kind of mistake. There wasn't. Trinity grad and Express-News higher education reporter Melissa Ludwig had been covering Elise that year as part of a series on access and retention of college students. She tracked two others from different campuses as well.

When Melissa contacted me to recommend a student for her to follow, Elise immediately came to mind. She embodied all the best traits of a Trinity student: bright, compassionate, enthusiastic, and fun. But her background was really different.

I met Elise in her first week at Trinity. She was one of the original runners in my "run with the Dean" program during new student orientation. It was clear from the outset that she was someone special and was mature beyond her years. As the oldest child of five, Elise had to grow up quickly when her parents, both doctors, packed up the family and moved to Nigeria to do Christian missionary work. Elise had to work hard from age 12 to help her family and also invest in her own non-traditional educational experiences.

There was never a question that she would graduate after a successful career here. But she knew this boy. One Express-News article offered a clue of what was to follow. "She dreams of becoming a diplomat... But domesticity tugs at her heartstrings too. Having grown up in a large family she wants lots of children and has a boyfriend too." I'd say. She got married and transferred to Oklahoma University to be with her fighter pilot husband, Dave. They are moving to a military base in North Dakota.

This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. It was a tough choice, with her heart being in two places. It was the right choice. Elise is able to have it all. She is in love and happily married and has her college degree. I wonder if Melissa Ludwig knows. Elise is a success and as the Express-News series predicted, her trajectory toward academic success was strong. It gets better for Trinity. There is another. Elise and her mom were in town because Elise's brother, James, was here for a campus tour. According to them, he is better than Elise. Ha!

So, maybe we'll get a Goen to graduate from here at some point. It seems that we really already did, even though technically... On this alumni weekend on campus, I look forward to the return of many Trinity grads. They have their Trinity degrees. Elise doesn't. Still, for me. she'll always be one of them anyway.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Counter in TUitive 10.8.10

I love the Trinitonian. In the most recent edition, a photo is displayed on page 2 of the Dean of Students' campus house - my home - which was TP'ed with toilet paper the previous night. The headline read: "Are we in middle school again?"

Actually, it is high school. My house was toilet papered by the cheerleaders for Central Catholic High School for my son, who plays football as a senior there. I actually went out and chatted with the vandals as they decorated. They also did a little work on the Suburban, as pictured above. The front windshield actually said "Sexy Senior" which drew all sorts of odd looks when I was driving around alone later that week. Senior, yes, as in gray-haired old man.

I will think the Trinitonian staff thought I was the target of this: That -- by their headline --they were chastising the childish pranksters in a way that was protective of their Dean. That is good news to me. Even better news is that TUPD, housed next door to me on Kings Court, had also noticed the decorating and called me about it before charging in.

In Stride: the Long run

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. We begin the series with senior Jessica Long, a Biology major from Arlington, Texas.

Why did you decide to do the half initially?
I had run off and on for years. Then you sent out an email saying if we could run three miles by the end of the summer we should be able to train for the half, and I love a challenge.

Why a full this year?
A half was no longer a challenge distance-wise. I knew I could do it, so I needed another challenge.

What motivates you?
I’ve always been self motivated. I have a strong need to succeed that drives me and keeps me going.

What are you proud of?
I’m proud of being at Trinity, especially since neither of my parents went to college, my baking abilities, and the two half marathons I have run.

Tell me about your grandparents and what they mean to you.
My grandparents mean the world to me, and I don’t know what I would do without them. I have lived with them since I was 13 years old, and they have always supported me any way they could. Because of them I have had countless opportunities I would not have had otherwise, including Trinity. Technically, they are my grandparents, but, for all practical purposes, they are my parents. I know they will be sitting on the front row at graduation in the Spring cheering me on now and always.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Underdog forever

Kayla Mire ('10) passed away on October 2, 1010 in a one vehicle accident. I wish she hadn't been alone, but she had grown comfortable there. The last year or two weren't the easiest for her, but she was making a comeback. In her sister Jaime's blog honoring Kayla, she encourages that we be honest and "say what we feel." A stressed out Kayla sought advice from me about her commitment as an ASR senator. She decided to step down, and her peers in the senate rejected her personally delivered resignation. They didn't care if she didn't do another thing. They were pulling for her. They weren't the only ones. She had professors who loved and appreciated her and who worked closely with her to get back on track. They were pulling for her too. So was I. She played the unwilling underdog and is forever stuck there for me.

Her story is much fuller to many other people though. I look forward to the memories as posted on Jaime's blog and to hearing more stories about her from previous, happier times. Her sister, also a recent TU grad who had to endure the death of her brother in 2004 as well, says "I'm working on putting together a service project in her a honor, most likely a posthumous poetry reading, featuring her writing combined with the writing of those who knew her. It's titled the KAYLA project: Keeping Active with Youth, Love, and Art. I set up a blog where people can post their favorite memories, a letter to her, maybe a poem - whatever they feel. And their words, inspired by Kayla, will go on to better the lives of others. She wanted to devote her life to service, so I feel it's the best way to honor her."

Please honor Kayla's memory by reading or contributing to the KAYLA project blog. The funeral is set for Saturday afternoon.

Minerva, Meredith, M*A*S*H, and Mary

Student Affairs staff member Minerva Lopez, shown with President Dennis Ahlburg, was the recipient of the Helen Heare McKinley Employee Excellence Award for September, 2010. Minerva is on the left.

An announcement by committee member Meredith Elsik noted: Minerva has been a member of the Trinity community for over 10 years, currently serving as the Senior Secretary in the Counseling Services offices. She also worked as a secretary in the Health Care Administration department for several years. One of her co-workers described Minerva’s dedication to her job, saying “Minerva Lopez is the Radar O’Reilley of Counseling Services. Like the M*A*S*H character, Minerva knows how to get things done and makes them happen."

Minerva was also honored at the annual University Awards ceremony for ten years of service. At that same ceremony, Mary Butler, from the campus Mail Center, was recognized for 20 years of service to Trinity University. Mary is a tremendous employee and colleague and serves with pride and enthusiasm. She is pictured with several family members who attended the October 5 ceremony. She is the one clutching the award like she earned it every day of those 20 years. Congratulations to these great two staff members!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Right Stuff

This is complicated. The campus paper, the Trinitonian, has participated in a one-week celebration of the First Amendment, by publishing a four-page wrap-around TriniPHONian with news that is presented as, well, phony news. That wrap-around illustrated what the paper would be like if the administration - not the student body - was the publisher. The editorial in the regular portion of the paper explains this and then explores the importance of free speech, applauding the way it is practiced here. (No prior review of the paper, for example.)

This is all set to the back-drop of a story and editorial from the previous week, about Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Apparently two club officers were stripped of their leadership positions in IVCF because one was dating a non-Christian, and another announced that she no longer believed in hell.

But before judging IVCF too harshly, check out the Trinitonian story about the speaker the group brought to campus this week. She is Trinity parent Evelyn Husband Thompson and she talked about her faith following the loss of her husband Rick in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle tragedy. He was the mission captain. Her talk, as covered by the Trinitonian, was inspiring. Her faith, apparently, helped her rebuild her life from a very real kind of hell. Maybe they are on to something.

A Trinitonian columnist who is actually the President of IVCF wrote a personal and stirring column about some of the less-than-civil criticism he has endured in the wake of last week's story. In his column, he openly disagreed with the paper's coverage and editorial the previous week. So he wrote about it as a columnist for the same paper this week. The paper, apparently, practices what it preaches, no pun intended.

This week there is also a letter from a professor who suggests Jesus wouldn't be able to hold an officer position in IVCF under current rules. I think is tongue-in-cheek. It's hard to tell, because the letter includes terms such as "anti-intellectualism"(guilty), "relativism," and "secular humanists." This is why I prefer being a staff member. (I could do a whole blog post on the pros and cons of Jesus being in a Trinity student organization, by the way.)

A library staffer, two brothers, and a satirist also weighed-in this week on the IVCF issue. I offer a brief synopsis:
- If I believed in hell, which I don't, I would suggest you go there;
- Date people of different faiths even if marriage isn't imminent;
- Houston is hell and;
- The words "womb" and "anathema" are good to keep in your arsenal.

As we learned during last year's diploma debate, sometimes being right, doesn't make you right. Sometimes there is much more gray than black-and-white. People in the same community and even part of the same publication can make legitimate differing points through civil discourse. And yet again, we see the students and the learned faculty and staff here able to exercise their First Amendment rights (even at a private institution) and debate in generally thoughtful, emotional, and intellectual ways. The focus is on teaching and learning. In the end,the details really don't even matter that much. Yes, it's complicated. On a college campus, it should be.