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Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun Run: 4th Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge

The Fourth Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge featured accomplishment, exhaustion, and most of all, fun! Rachel Barnes, Matt Mitts' hat, McKenzie Quinn, and Nicola Hill, pictured above, get their motors running at the Saturday packet pick-up and expo. The Trinity training program culminates in the 13.1 mile San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

This year's run again featured about 100 Trinity runners. The crew made a big splash in their maroon Trinity shirts and somehow stood out in a sea of 25,000 runners. The program featured long weekend runs, weekday training, a pre-race pasta dinner, speakers, and many post-run meals. One highlight was the ten mile run at Woodlawn Lake on October 29. After the run 30 members of the training crew were treated to breakfast tacos at a nearby Mexican restaurant. As the video below shows, despite the early hour, the group was treated to some pretty unique karaoke.

The group collected over $1,800 and 700 food items for the San Antonio Food Bank in the Kayla Mire Food Drive. Kayla, a supporter of the homeless, died last year following graduation. Her folks talked about her at the August info session and the runners responded with record-breaking donations.

I love spending time with students, colleagues, alumni, and others over the several months of this program. Thanks to everyone for making this a special event. Check out videos of runners crossing the finish line!

video

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Unbroken


Trinity University head football coach Steve Mohr addresses his team after the Tigers' 20-14 victory over Centre College. The Tigers' undefeated streak remained in tact and they sewed up at least a share of the conference championship with the win. Centre was previously undefeated and this was the last match between the teams as Centre is one of several schools leaving the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference after this year.

The audio is hard to hear on the video, but what Coach Mohr had to say mattered less than the fact that he was even there to address his team. Steve has been battling health issues and has had to miss one road contest. Athletic Director Bob King says his presence alone was enough to bring the team back from down 14-0 in the contest. The team, apparently, has assumed the toughness of its coach.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Soccer Mom Defends Husband

The photo shows Penelope Harley walking away, purse in hand, and in obvious disgust with the speaker. The Express-News story says she was leaving the talk to "attend her son's soccer match." The only thing missing was mom jeans.

Ms. Harley, wife of Trinity President, Dennis Ahlburg, was attending a guest presentation about free speech by a former Colorado professor. The President, Dennis Ahlburg, was out of town. Penelope, as is her way, wanted to support the faculty who sponsored this program. That the speaker worked at Colorado when the President and Ms. Harley were there was simply coincidental. Big campus.  Not knowing the Trinity first lady was in the audience, the speaker raised issues about President Ahlburg and alleged back-stabbing in Colorado and a worn out story about an evaluation of our President from his Boulder days.


I wasn't there. Maybe Penelope could have sat quietly and later confronted the man. Or maybe she could have walked out quietly rather than "stormed out" as the story states. Or she could have written a letter. But she stood up to defend the honor of our President - and in some ways - of our University. The speaker got more than he bargained for and so did the audience. Bravo!

While the official lesson was free speech, the sideshow became the story. That's how the media played it. And why not? The speaker's 15 minutes of fame should have ended 20 minutes ago. And free speech/civility/democracy/tenure stories can write themselves. So with piss and vinegar (and a purse and car key) the TU first lady spoke her mind and left the room to a nasty Nazi salute from our guest. The President stood up for his wife from across the country in a phone interview. "The only speech he wants to hear is his own voice," the President told the reporter.

Ms. Harley is an accomplished academic and professional, but the story lets it appear that she is an errand-running, spying, ranting super-mom. That would be just fine too. But it isn't the truth. Who cares that her personal and professional agenda centers on world peace?  Why not note, too, that she moderates disputes (or teaches how) while not busy being sucked into her own. The President can defend himself and he doesn't need a wife or Dean to do it. But both want to.

So what is the real take-away? Two things immediately jump to mind. The first: People are real, and not just defined by their positions. In this case, when you get Dennis as your President, you get Penelope too. And that's a good thing. There is value in seeing people as real and standing up for each other and what is right. This couple role-models something important - a healthy relationship. Secondly, we all like to think that if someone -- figuratively or literally -- gives us the finger we are big enough to turn and walk away. But sometimes you need to give it back. Dennis and Penelope have proven consistently that they won't lie down for anyone. They don't look for a fight, but they won't back down. This is a good lesson for our students and our campus. Emotions are part of who we are. We could probably have safer. There are many Presidents who won't offend and who will take the righteous and cautious path.

We could have vanilla, I'm sure. But we got Rocky Road. And that's a story worth reporting. It suits us just fine.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Second Most Interesting Man in the World Comes to Trinity


I once had to give away Trinity car flags to get people to read my blog. Imagine how flattered I was when Trinity President Dennis Ahlburg suggested I write a post about Salman Rushdie, who will be speaking on campus on November 7, 2011. I have to confess, all I really know about Salman Rushdie is that he angered Islamic extremists and had to hide in England, presumably among the Muggles.

The President suggested I look up the prominent author on Wikipedia, which I was actually writing down right before he said it. I believe he sized-up my academic research capabilities and wanted to extend me a starter kit. I am a little offended, although my search quickly led me to a site called Scribol and a post entitled Taylor Swift Looks Like a Blow-Up Doll. Which I guess means the President over-estimated me.

Dos Equis has decided to speak for all of us in identifying the most interesting man in the world. He played Jai-Alai and has a pet cougar, which means most of us are two steps behind right out of the gate. So if students aren't already planning on seeing Salman Rushdie, they should consider this:. Salman Rushdie may be the second most interesting man in the world.

Let's cut to the chase. First off, he was married to -- and then divorced -- someone one Web page describes as follows:

Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie have announced their impending divorce. Padma is a hot Indian actress and model. Salman is the Nobel* Prize-winning author for a controversial book. The divorce was her idea, and you can understand why she wanted to split. She is 24 years younger and a Bollywood-style celebrity who enjoys the limelight. He is a reserved author with a death threat hanging over his head which pushed them into hiding. They seem like oil and water together so this divorce was inevitable.

*Turns out he has a Booker Award and not a Nobel Prize. If you can't believe "Right Celebrity" who can you trust anymore?

Wow. Where do we begin? Google him and you find entries for Salman Rushdie's Wife. That's what we call "a lead." She is hot and 24-years-younger, and he is a Booker Prize winning author who had a fatwa declared against him. A fatwa (in this case)  is like a hit - but anyone is welcome to execute it. No pun intended. Padma was his fourth wife and she married him while he was under the fatwa. Imagine: "We just don't ever do anything. All you want to do is stay at home and live. Like, how boring." She won't be a model forever. But he will always have his Booker. He's better off.

All of this presents reason number two to go see him. HE HAD A FATWA DECLARED AGAINST HIM! He wrote a book, called the Satan Diaries (or something like that), and long story short, it was maybe blasphemous, and a guy named Ayatollah Khomeini declared our lecturer must die. Talk about a tough critic. It's sorta like the anonymous posters on my blog.

My research, incidentally, also taught me that Salman Rushdie wrote a previous book that is described this way:

Midnight's Children (1981) is in part the story of a baby who was not only the result of an extramarital affair, but who was then switched at birth with a second illicit child. The hero of the novel is doubly removed from his true patrimony: His mother's husband is not his father, and the Englishman with whom his Indian mother slept—who his mother thinks is his father—is not his real father either. In addition, the hero is caught between the two great religions of Indian, Islam and Hinduism, neither of which he can claim as his own. Finally, he spends his life being shunted back and forth by circumstance between the Indian republic and its antithesis, Pakistan.

This begs the question: Why so long for the fatwa? Anyway, it is a big deal to have a fatwa plunked on you because only the fatwa-er can rescind it, and in this case, that person is deceased so the fatwa can never be rescinded. But, apparently the fatwa has been called off in spirit, though not before people who translated the book in several languages were killed for said translations. Meanwhile, Salman Rushdie is teaching at Emory.

Still not convinced to go to the lecture? How about this. Salman Rushdie is going to have his own TV show. He has done research by watching a show called Game of Thrones for homework. And here is how he describes it:

"It was garbage, yet very addictive garbage - because there's lots of violence, all the women take their clothes off all the time, and it's kind of fun. In the end, it's well produced trash, but there's room for that too."

What frat is HE in? I think it is VERY possible that late on November 7 our speaker will end up in some dorm room watching HBO with sophomores, sipping brandy, and talking trash about Emory students.

Have I mentioned that he is a Knight? More accurately he is a Knight Bachelor, which sounds even cooler.

All that aside, Salman Rushdie is a highly-regarded author and that should be reason enough to go see him. I will go see him because for one afternoon he led me down an exhilarating Internet search path that went like this: "Is Olivia Wilde still Pretty without Make-up?" (Who is Olivia Wilde?) "Mila Kunis Sexy in South Africa." (Yawn.) "Video of game-show Uranus blooper." Bingo!

Most can only dream about ever making "the most interesting man" list. More likely, November 7 will be as close as we will ever get. Come join me. And Salman.

Treading Water


Last week the Trinitonian reported on an initiative by the Association of Student Representatives and Students Organized for Sustainability to eliminate bottled water from campus. The University Sustainability Committee supports this as well. While the story reported that this would be a long, difficult process, in the end, it is really simple. We have been here before. In the end, students will determine the outcome in their roles as consumers and they the freedom to do so.

Unless one works for a plastics manufacturer, nearly everyone supports the reduction of plastic bottles in our environment. Our University President made a statement on the issue when he arrived on campus and told offices that the University wouldn't pay to stock offices with bottled water. It gets trickier when it comes to retail sales on campus.
As we have learned with dining changes this year, people generally want the University to offer a choice. In the dining hall it has been about healthy-only choices versus a broader variety.

A few years ago the vending company that Trinity contracts with added bottled water to the machines on campus. Bottled water sales now make up the bulk of vending revenue. Likewise, the dining locations on campus do a profitable business selling water. To remove these items may drive students to energy drinks and sodas, which have their own health-related baggage. Or, students would likely buy cases of water elsewhere. Ultimately, though, soda and Monster don't come out of drinking fountains -- water does.

In trying to improve or alter the campus culture, small groups of students have pushed for change. The honor code was initiated by a small, passionate group of students. The same was true of the golf cart escort program (which was supposed to be student-run). Students also started the plastics recycling program but it was taken over by the University because there weren't enough student volunteers to maintain the program. A small group also pushed to remove Styrofoam to-go containers from campus. After an intense campaign, students continued to use the containers when given other options. Even now, while some push for a bottled-water ban, others dump trash in recycled bins because they don't have time to sort. This contamination means that the whole bin is treated as trash. The first step the student leaders in this initiative need to take is to create student-wide buy-in.


In addition, the University would likely love to extend the stance of the President on bottled water throughout campus, but that isn't risk free. Students will see this as heavy-handed and some may say that with robust water sales the University fixed something that wasn't broken. This means that those students who want to make change must own change. ASR pushed for the Sophomore College and for dining changes but when the changes became reality either flipped or remained very quiet. If ASR and SOS make a compelling case to eliminate bottled water, they need to show that the majority want this change and then take the heat when there is push-back.

In the past, students have asked for a shuttle on campus to take students to and from parties. Such a program was panned by our insurance carrier but would have been extremely expensive and difficult to manage. Besides, identifying designated drivers is free, instant, and generally safe. While I don't suggest a water boycott, the students and employees on campus can make change starting today. Stop buying bottled water. True activism doesn't wait for bureaucracy.
The University will look at retrofitting some water fountains to make it easier to get water out of the drinking fountains on campus. But it isn't as though we are asking students to pump water from a well. Tilt the bottle, wait a few seconds, and be on your way. ASR has reserves that could help fund these retrofits today. Will they support this initiative with student fee money? Will students support that?

Trinity University values direct student empowerment. The Honor Council is student-run. The Student Conduct Board has authority to speak for the community with no staff voice included. Upper-class residents are housed where they can be autonomous and control their own environment. Residential Life decided to allow students in the residence halls to vote on whether or not each hall should be smoke-free or not. So again, students get to decide directly about their environment. For now, the University will continue to sell bottled water and look at the water fountain retrofits. Ultimately, then, as it should be, students will decide about this issue starting today. Or not.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dog Tales


The Acabellas
"The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine. Yes, I actually have this song on my iPod Shuffle. I love this iteration of the Acabellas, but what's new. The Acabellas and Trinitones are bright spots in the Trinity landscape. Everyone loves them. Woof.

Rabid Runner

This week I sent out an email rant to faculty and staff about illegal violations of the posting policy. I was trying to make it funny and mentioned that perhaps a root of the rant was that I had been bitten by a dog. Come to find out that the joke circulating among staff is to ask, "so did the dog die?" Grrrowl. I'll take it  though, because I have no choice and it is kinda funny.

So I was off on Monday and running on the Riverwalk when a nice young couple stopped me and asked for my help because a stray dog was drowning in the river and "about to go under." The man was younger and stronger looking than me, so I was was flattered that they chose me as their co-hero. Of course it was a Monday morning and no one else was around. Well, as a vegetarian, the idea of a dog drowning just hit the right nerve. I believe in animal rights, except, of course, for cats. Anyways, the guy and I leaned over to try to get the dog before he went under and the best I could do was grab his tail. The dog's I mean. What happened next was anticipated and unexpected at the same time. I remember thinking "I think this will hurt," and when it's teeth sank into my arm I thought, "eh, not as bad as I thought." This did allow me to grab the nape of the dog's neck and between the two of us we were able to pull the dog out to safe ground. It was really my fault, so I bear no ill will toward the dog.

My arm bled a lot. But a San Antonio River Authority worker helped patch me up so I could finish my run. I went to the Texas Med Clinic for a tetanus shot and was told I needed rabies shots. "What happens if you get rabies anyways" I asked the doctor. "You die." Oh. I did not know that. So eight shots and $3,500 later I have started to second guess the rescue. Especially because the River Authority guy told me they usually let the animals get REALLY tired and then use a net to help them out. Good to know as well. They have apparently pulled out a pig and a coyote and numerous dogs. No word on cats. An interesting debate between two of the workers actually escalated. Apparently one thought the dog was male and the other insisted it was female because it had lactating "teets." Hmmmm. Okay... I thought they were both right. Blood loss I guess.

A Police Officer asked if I wanted Animal Control called at the time and I said "no." I mean, imagine rescuing a dog only to have it thrown in the pound and euthanized. I could have just kept running. Anyways, two shot regimens down and two to go. And maybe some lucky puppies have their stray momma around, thanks in part to me.

Student Affairs Dog
After a couple of years of having service dogs and TSA dogs on campus for students to pet for final exam study breaks the staff is making a pitch to be a foster campus for a puppy. Katharine Martin and the Trinitonian staff will do the lion's share of the work. But the dog would stay with us for a year and be available for students to play with and borrow. It will be trained to be a drug-sniffing dog and I guess a college campus is a good place to prep for that. Former Dean Coleen Grissom used to say, "residence halls are no places for living things." During the week the dog will be either in CCI, Campus Publications, the Dean of Students Office, or maybe the Witt Center.

Preliminarily we plan on getting the dog a Twitter account and will also have walk-in(g) hours. TSA still needs to approve us to be a foster family. But we're normal. Right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Next up in dining changes: Skyline Room


A committee of students, faculty, and staff are looking at the next phase of improvements to the dining program. The Skyline Room, pending budgetary approval, is up next. That approval is not a slam dunk, but the Mabee renovation and the addition of Einstein's were the first of many changes including ones to the Commons and the addition of a Science Cafe. One thing is for sure - the Skyline Room is one of the best locations in the city and it is only being used ten hours a week - and only by a minority of the campus population. Consultants last spring told us we are under-utlizing a fantastic space. It needs refurbishment and re-envisioning.

Here is the vision for the Skyline renovation so far. I invite comments here so we can have an active dialog.

1. For the faculty, professors are generally seeking a place that is available for quick, convenient lunches and where they can have spontaneous and conversations with other faculty members. Good, fair-priced, healthy food that is served up quick or is self-serve, such as the current buffet is what many seem interested in. There is also a need for lunches when staff and faculty are hosting job candidates and other guests, including students.

2. For the students, ARAMARK recommended moving the beer and wine license up from the Tigers' Den, which is non-functioning except for special events. The Skyline Room would serve as a venue for late-night weekend entertainment. It could include acoustic music, karaoke, jazz, open mike, comedy, etc. Students of all ages would be welcome but having a beer and wine option would be nice for those of age.

3. For the staff, students, and faculty, the Skyline Room might be open for Happy Hour a couple days a week and a limited dinner menu for those staying on campus between classes and meetings, but uninterested in making the trek down the hill.
Overall, the committee recommends a warm venue, akin to a place such as Cappycino's or other wine and coffee bars. The space should be flexible, allow for break-out spaces as it does now, and offer a flexible and reasonably priced menu based on time of day and needs of the people on campus at those times. While students can use Tiger Bucks there currently, the space would be primarily faculty and staff oriented at lunch and more faculty/staff/student-oriented later in the day (student-oriented on weekend nights).

Offering a limited lunch plan for senior students to use the space is also being considered. One professor suggested having a piano up there. A staff member suggested it have technology available for slide shows and videos. There is a lot of interest in opening the terrace as well. So what would you like to see?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

LeRoy, Oh LeeRoy


Today on campus I noticed this guy with a maroon cap with the Trinity Tiger sports logo on the back. I had never seen that cap and was struck by the large tiger, but something seemed amiss. Turns out my subconscious thoughts were screaming at me that the Major League Baseball logo was under the tiger. I looked, inconspicuously,and noted the big "T" on the front of the cap. And so I met LeRoy Mitchell, first year student and TU football player (see t-shirt). He was extremely polite and when I asked where he got the hat he explained that he had it made back home - Lubbock I think. He had the Texas Ranger T put on a Trinity maroon hat and added the Trinity tiger logo on back. And he didn't mind some guy taking his picture.
Did LeRoy know that LeeRoy used to be a live tiger borrowed by the University for Trinity football games and is the moniker of our daily newsletter? Doubt it. But I love LeRoy's spirit for his football team and his school. And he just got here. Hold that Tiger!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Loss and Found


Popular Trinity University senior, Catharine Found, lost her sister, Caroline, in a moped accident on August 11 in Iowa City, Iowa. On August 23, Catharine's mother, Ellyn, passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Catharine, a member of Gamma Chi Delta, returned to classes recently and to the Trinity University volleyball team, on which she stars. Her coaches, teammates, and their families offered tribute to the Found family by designing, purchasing, and distributing special Team Found t-shirts for the September 2nd game against Wisconsin-Platteville. Catharine played with poise, grace, and enthusiasm in the win. The game was dedicated to the Found family and the team will wear the t-shirts in warm-ups for the entire season. The game was heavily promoted to bring in a big crowd to show Catharine and her family support from the Trinity family.  We all grieve with Catharine, her father, Ernie, and her brother, Gregg, who were in attendance Friday. We are here for you always Catharine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Magically Nutritious?


A handful of students have questioned me lately on something I wrote in an all-student e-mail about recent changes in dining services on campus: Specifically, seeing fewer unhealthy options on campus (ideally, none), and more healthy options. This is what got me into trouble:

“I am committed to healthy food options for students. So is ARAMARK. I would like to see only whole grain options in Mabee Hall (as opposed to processed flour), and I would also like to see less candy in the convenience store. I am on a one-man crusade to remove all white bread from the dining area (two-man crusade if you include President Ahlburg). I think I actually struck a deal with Miguel Ardid, Dining Services Manager, that he could keep serving donuts only if a whole grain alternative is offered. I have told ARAMARK that any cereal that includes primary or pastel colors needs to go.”

Based on recent feedback. Most people agree with me. Some students, though, have respectfully pointed out that it isn’t the place of the University -- or me -- to dictate what we serve (or don't serve) to students. I remember arguing in favor of a cigarette machine in our dorm when I was a smoking college student. My convenience mattered most. Lung disease not withstanding... Anyway, I appreciate having the respectful dialog, so thought I would take my case to the cyber-community. (Weigh in at the poll above right).

Personally, I would find it difficult to argue in favor of crummy food. An American obesity epidemic, food that is manufactured/slaughtered/sprayed/injected, and engineered. Factor in the lifestyle of the college student, and it seems that we have an obligation to do the right thing for our students. Couple that with the Student Affairs strategic plan that features a learning outcome specifically related to health and wellness. It is in our DNA.

What is more, the argument that we should offer students free choice in this matter seems erroneous to me. Trinity University is exemplary, I think, in allowing freedom of expression and thought both inside and outside the classroom. But it isn't a free-for-all in how we manage our operations. Though the law permits it, we don't allow hard liquor in the residence halls because it promotes binge drinking. (I know, not very effective as a deterrent.) We don't sell cigarettes or porn in the bookstore (though students get HBO in their rooms). We "force" students to do things all the time: We design a curriculum and we have a residency requirement, and we have a balcony policy similar to ones off campus, for example. Conversely,we sell and give away condoms in the bookstore and Health Services respectively. We also have a responsible friend (Good Samaritan) policy and offer cab vouchers through Tiger Bucks to make it easier to not drink and drive. These are things you get, when you choose us. We are not values-free. (And I'm not talking "family values.")

One thoughtful student mentioned wanting sweets or white bread and candy once in awhile. I have to admit, I do have a sweet tooth. I ate six cookies last night at the ASR meeting. Long meeting. I strive to eat healthy, but it seems no matter how well I eat in Mabee Hall, I always need a slice of cheese pizza as a chaser. But I wouldn't grab it, if it wasn't there. I wouldn't buy M&Ms either. My wife and I curse each other out whenever the other brings home family-size bags of the M&Ms. But we do have something called free will. We don't have to eat what is served or sitting on the counter. But we also easily fall to temptation. So why tempt? And yes, full disclosure, not only do I love Lucky Charms, but I love the chocolate kind! And my comfort food IS donuts.

So, I envision dining services where students and employees can have whole grain, made-from-scratch, organic, and natural food choices on a daily basis. And people will eat what is served. If we serve soda, and white bread, and sugary cereal, we are actually forcing unhealthy choices. That runs counter to our mission.

As with most things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, no pun intended. I have framed this as all or nothing, but maybe that is extreme. I suspect that over time, we will see a decline in the unhealthy products and a corresponding growth in healthy options. I can have my way with a healthy menu, I suppose, but one that includes some latitude for those who once in awhile just want their donuts.

Per comments below. Click here to see some of the data that led us to review dining service option.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spirit Story: Tiger Rag

We all have a little PI in us, don't we? I was thrilled, recently, to try to track down the old Trinity fight song. I figured it was as close as I would ever get to sleuthing in my life. I even remember my old (and retired) colleague Thurman Adkins singing the fight song to me and some ASR students in his attempt to see the campus revive it. Is that weird? That was years ago - but this summer I called him and this time I hummed it to him. Is that weird too? I was just trying to find what it was called, so I could take it from there. He had no idea what I was talking - or humming - about.

For years students in ASR (student government) have tried to find ways to generate more school spirit on campus: tailgates, the victory bell (Greek Council is re-reviving it this year!), t-shirt give-aways, post-game parties, pre-game parties, and more. In fact this year, one of the cheerleaders, Ali Kimura, is planning a party for the first football game.

It's not that our students don't have spirit. Just go to a soccer game. Or just ask about the Mississippi Miracle. But we don't have rabid game day, 100,000 people spirit. But there is nothing wrong with wanting it. In fact, the Student Affairs staff has now joined the quest. We will be wearing maroon and gray/silver on Fridays in our own show of spirit. The Business Office has done spirit decorations for years. We want in on that and discussed it at a summer staff meeting. It was then that I vowed to find that old fight song. But my leads dried up. Even our resident historian Doug Brackenridge didn't know what I was talking about. I didn't hum to him though.

Enter CCI staffer Carolyn Bonilla. She was cleaning out some old files (Thurman's actually) and found the music to the old alma mater and the fight song. I took it to David Heller in the Music Department to play and this is actually what he played for me - on the spot:


Success! That is what Thurman sang to us those many years ago. (I think I am going to stop bringing that up. Clearly it meant more to me than him...) Anyways, I was looking for the words, so I took to Twitter to find out if any alumni remembered them. It was then that I received a link to the Tiger Rag from Vinny Minchillo. What? A link to our own fight song? This was like learning there would be a season two of The Voice! Well, it turns out there are over 130 recordings of our fight song. Whoa!!! We are really famous... or maybe really not.

Here is one of the first versions. It is pretty interesting on several levels:


So this is a famous song that Trinity adopted as its own. This was no original. Turns out the darn song is EVERYWHERE. I mean, EVERYWHERE! I am the worst detective ever. To make matters worse. Check THIS out:


But I still wanted to know if there were lyrics that our students could learn. I guess you should be careful what you wish for. Here is what I found.

Claude King Hold That Tiger (Tiger Rag) Lyrics:

(Oooh where's that tiger now) Where's that tiger
where's that tiger where's that tiger where's that
tiger
Hold that tiger hold that tiger hold that
tiger hold that tiger Hold him choke him kick him
pokin' Where's that tiger where's that tiger where
oh where can he be Low or highbrow they all cry
now where can that tiger be
Whip it hard till it moans whip it hard till it
groans let her grip start to clip its claw Where's
that tiger...

Wow.

In any event, I forwarded the music to Andrew Christ, who leads the Trinity Stand Band, and they are hard at work learning the arrangement for the September 9 football game. But I am still curious about this. Why do WE want to hold that tiger? Why can't we find that tiger? Why should we sing this? Here are the most common lyrics, and the ones I think I hope to hear our students singing from years to come:

Hold that Tiger
Hold that Tiger
Hold that Tiger
Hold that Tiger
Hold that Tiger
Hold that Tiger

Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger
Where's that Tiger

Now that's a song we can get behind. Again. We have spirit. Yes. Yes we do.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hubs Galore - Finding Our Center


I remember some of the questions of my colleagues when the coffee shop was added to the Trinity library (photo above is a skyward view of the library entry portal). This addition would make the library a hub of campus life. Wait a minute, some wondered, isn't the Coates University Center the hub of campus life? (Their Web page says it is one of them.)

Well, it seems one campus cannot have too many hubs. And since Java City arrived, the hub-bub about what is the true soul of the campus has escalated tremendously. So the questions are: What makes a hub? How many hubs do we actually have? And can one place have an unhealthy hub glut?

Consider this my own take on the hub issue.

What makes a hub?
First, I think people need to go to your venue. If they don't go, you can call it a hub all you want... but it isn't one. I can say I look like Brad Pitt all I want, but I still look like David Brenner. Second, a hub's gotta have food. And third, others must recognize your hub as hub-worthy. It's kind of like when people like your shirt and tell you. Then you know you have a good shirt. Same with a hub. So let's look at Java City, the coffee shop in the library. People loved the coffee shop, so the library did become a hub, and in truth, it didn't siphon too many people away from the University Center. Of course it IS possible that the excellent technological applications and the tremendous collections have made the library a hub. Just kidding.

How many hubs do we have?
Well, there are some who think the Bell Athletic Center is a hub. In addition to athletic facilities, it also has ping-pong and showers (no relation). Table tennis does not make a hub though (see above), so I think the Bell Center isn't truly a hub. I know the faculty and administration are excited about the new The Center for the Science and Innovation. They have included a cafe in the design because they think this will not just be a laboratory, but that people will want to hang out there all the time. This definitely has hub potential with or without the Cafe. The Coates Center has food and mailboxes. Hub.

I have my own hub going, and that is Mabee Hall. This wasn't even my idea originally, but I am now taking credit for it. Mabee will be THE lower campus late-night residential hub of campus. It will be open as a gathering place for students into the early morning hours and the new convenience store/grill will draw people in to either study, hang-out, or just get a snack. This hub will have no excellent technological applications and tremendous book and periodical collections It will have some kind of shake machine that cleans itself, however. And there is even tentative talk of a new campus Welcome Center, that could serve as - you got it - a hub for campus visitors.

Of course there are the wanna-be hubs - the Tower for one, Coach Paul McGinlay's soccer empire for another, the Trinity pool, and the Magic Stones.

Can one place have too many hubs?
Can a campus our size have too many places for people to gather and interact? Can there be so many places that each hub of activity loses its hub aura? Hubs are moving targets. a student can spend an hour in the Coates Center, two hours at the library, plenty of time in the new Science facility and wrap up his or her night in Mabee. Or spend a week in one place and the next in another. We aren't New York City after all.

Our product is learning and our strength is engagement, between faculty and each other, students and each other, and staff and each other. Then, add to it places where students and faculty, faculty and staff, and students and staff can come together. Wow: We are in hub heaven. The better and more plentiful the space, the better the engagement, the better the learning, and the better the social environment.

Special Delivery


Who knew? Certainly not me. That's embarrassing. The man who had been working behind the counter at the Mail Center for the last two years had a bigger plan. Since the Mail Center is an important part of the division of Student Affairs, I should know more about the people working in my area. So when Joe Ruiz told me last week that he was leaving for Philadelphia to join the Augustinian order I was surprised. Wouldn't he be at Trinity forever? No. He will spend a year at Villanova and then move to Racine to begin his novitiate the following year.

I knew Joe to be a religious man. I even knew him to be a Catholic and to have an advanced degree. Shame on me for not learning more sooner. He took a couple years off from his religious life to be sure he had found the right calling. While serving students and employees here with a kind and understated demeanor he was also confirming his own path. That path is to become an Augustinian brother. Joe has a deep faith. He is introspective and he has dedicated much of his life to serving others.

Joe's last day here is August 12. Joe attended St. Edward's in Austin and was a first generation college student and part of the McNair program there. He graduated cum laude in 2006. He completed his Master of Arts at the Oblate School of Theology in 2010.

I have learned two things from Joe's experience. The first is really just a reinforcement of something I already knew. The Trinity community, as with almost any other, is filled with people who have interesting and surprising stories. Sometimes you just need to pay attention. Thanks for the reminder, Joe.

The second lesson is that no work is unworthy. I knew that too. Joe is an exemplary employee. Like his colleagues, Carl, Mary, and Edward, he has great pride in the quality of work done in the Mail Center. Carl and Edward have found ways to save the University tens of thousands of dollars through increased efficiency standards. Mary will tear up talking about her interactions with student workers and other students. She has been a mother to some and is as proud as anyone of Trinity University. One thing I love about my Student Affairs colleagues is that each one thinks his or her job is the most important one and the best one on campus. It is an amazing group. (Although my job really IS the best one!)

Once again, I am reminded of the specialness of the Trinity community. The stories are everywhere. This one was closer to home than I recognized. So with that, best wishes to Joe as he pursues his ministry. After all, it seems it never really stopped.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Senior Scrapbook: Back Stories

THIS IS THE LAST POST OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR. LOOK FOR MORE MID-SUMMER!
 
Cliff with Women
This was taken at Twilight at Trinity, the Residential Life senior banquet. Nearly 300 people showed up for dinner, drinks, and jazz. It was originally slated to be at the Storch building, with the skyline in the background. Of course, the only day of rain in the last half year was that day, so we had to move inside to Mabee Hall, which the students actually seemed to prefer, oddly. I took several pictures and promised seniors I would post them on my blog, but almost none of them turned out. So apologies to all of you! Cally Chenault organized this program and she sent me this photo from Facebook. I decided I would use it and call it "Cliff with Women," and then noticed that's what it was already labeled.

 ParentTalkers from New Delhi
 
Anil and Gurmeet Bakshi have reached legendary status as favorites on the Trinity listserv ParentTalk. Anil does most of the posting, but Gurmeet "watches over his shoulder" to monitor what he says. Probably a good thing given his sense of humor. (Some people will put almost anything in writing.) Their reference to me as "His Dean-ness" on PT over the last several years has brought a certain amount of status to my position, even if the reference is tongue-in-cheek. They were here four years ago to drop off their son Arnav. This trip back was their first in four years. We finally met in person at Friday's Baccalaureate, featuring speaker Dr. Carey Latimore.

Senior Moment

Fitting, indeed, that the Class of 2011 selected my mentor, Dr. Coleen Grissom to offer the toast at Friday's Last Great Reception. Dr. Grissom was the keynote speaker four years ago when the students arrived on campus as new students. True to form, Dr. Grissom did not recycle her material, but referenced it in a touching send-off of this terrific group of seniors. Dr. Grissom, by the way, hired me twice, and promoted me twice. And she has told me that I sometimes use humor inappropriately. Really Dr. Grissom... I learned from the best!
One of a KIND

Commencement featured a student speaker (read on...) and keynoter and alum Daniel Lubetzky. It was a pleasure to finally get to meet Daniel. He gave a terrific speech. I learned of him last year when he set up an annual Roman M. Lubetzky  KINDness Award. This is one of the Student Leadership Awards and goes to a student who exemplifies social vision and kindness toward others. He named the award after his father, a Holocaust survivor and self-educated man. The first recipient of this $5,000 cash award was senior Shelley Ramsey. Click here to see the award presentation and hear words from Roman himself.
 Cantwell Donewell

Nevermind that student commencement speaker Jenna Cantwell was kind of a dark horse in a competitive pool of potential speakers (chosen be fellow seniors by the way). Her speech was strong in substance and style and received rave reviews. The highlight was her mention of the late German professor Herr Sebastian, who had students out to his home when his cancer kept him from coming to campus. What's more, Jenna's parents had no idea she was the commencement speaker until they were seated and opened up their programs and her dad asked her mom if she knew Jenna was speaking. She didn't. And she cried during the beautiful speech. When Jenna mentioned that she and her mom kept the cost of college from her father, it was true. Apparently her mom does the bills and they spared dad the details. Priceless indeed Jenna. And way to get comfy in that Alumni t-shirt! Well played all the way around.
Ten years ago...
Noelle (Stockman) MacGregor, Class of 2001 was not happy that she had to miss her own commencement because she was away representing Trinity in the softball playoffs. She asked then President John Brazil for her own commencement. He obliged and a tradition was born. Who is the skinny man with brown hair anyway? Note that Noelle is a loyal follower of the Dean's List blog. Let's see how long it takes her to comment. (By the way, the coat, tie and pants... Wore them the other day.)

...and Today

The tradition was carried on today as three senior Trinity tennis players, who missed Saturday's festivities, had their own private ceremony. They were Bobby Coconougher, Cory Kowal, and Donald Murray, and they continue on to quarterfinals this weekend. Dr. Richard Burr offered a specially-tailored tennis-related speech recalling his own days as a college tennis -player in 1957. I snapped the above photo when Don Murray was receiving his diploma. Not a great photo, but it does reflect the intimacy of the ceremony. About 25 faculty, staff, and family members attended to see the students become official. Now go Tigers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Third Annual: The Year in Review - 2010-2011


A review of the Trinity Web page, Trinitonian and Dean’s List archives -- and some vetting by select Student Affairs staff -- results in this year’s review. I am pleased to report that the major Student Affairs goals from the past academic year have been addressed.

Dining Services
After a year-long process, a new meal plan is in place and significant renovations are about to begin in Mabee Hall. Any Einstein can see this will be a good thing.

Greek LifeA revised private party policy, newly approved calendar, risk management consultant reviews, new alumni advisory council, and a new sense of optimism. It’s been a good year. We have great momentum for the future.

Residency Requirement
After significant discussion, the Board of Trustees reaffirms that we are residential, and the best way to express it is through the continuing three-year requirement. That’s what you get when you choose us.

Top Five Stories

1. The economy
Perhaps the least sexy pick for a lead story, but the most impactful. Pell Grants in jeopardy from the federal level, TEG grants possibly being cut at the state level. With costs of higher education, squeezing students whose families are having their own battles with the economy puts everyone under pressure. Colleges, now, more than ever, need to be good stewards of resources.

2. Construction
Before number one, above, ground was broken on the fantastic new Center for the Sciences and Innovation building. This includes plans to move all heating and cooling facilities from the Science neighborhood to lower campus. Proposed trenching is changed to boring underground passageways to limit disruption. We can manage a little disruption as the first phase may open as soon as January.

3. Colin Powell – tickets and speech (and no notes!)
The hottest ticket in town was for this important campus lecture. Tickets were reserved for students, the community, and employees. The shared pick-up time led to some concerns about availability of tickets for students. In the end, most all who wanted a ticket got one. This didn’t happen last time CP spoke here. But, lesson learned for next prominent lecture.

4. ASR
ASR made this list last year, for a change in the constitution to give ASR more power and authority by directly allocating activity fee. The fee is about half here as other places so the students voted to increase it for the next year. Crossed wires led to the proposal not being forwarded for University budget consideration. Students show their frustration with a 10% voter turn-out. Yawn…

5. Snow days
When numbers one through four are long-forgotten, students will remember the day south central Texas froze over, and school was called off and bid day was postponed for a day.

Hits

Student giving
Senior gift, disaster victims, the needy in San Antonio. TU students have huge hearts.

Residence hall renovations
Calvert re-built, McFarlin Halls and McLean refurbished, and Miller becomes LEED Gold certified.

Facilities Management response to breaking pipes

Flash Mob
This video says it all (scroll down).

40-34 double OT home football opener win vs. Howard Payne

Trinitonian
Best paper ever.

Men's Conference 


Misses (the news we didn’t want)

Proposed Gun law (again) – Allow guns on campus? Put a panic button in the Dean’s Office…

Greg Mortenson – First Reading TUgether book and lecturer loses his luster amid reports of fraud. He is a really nice man though.

Storch Cat – Poor old, evil, balding, possum-like creature passes. Students create a Facebook page to grieve. A campus icon is mourned with… fur ball in cheek.

Former President’s salary figuresCompensation receives national attention

Response to Facilities Management response to breaking pipes (see hits)

Professor leaves mid-fall

Stray dogs

Missing the soccer championships in our own backyard


Under the Radar

Environmental Studies Major approved

Presidential Inauguration

University declares no classes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving starting 2011

First Amendment Week

Women’s History Month

Performer Peterson Toscano

MLK speaker Marc Lamont Hill (Awesome!)

Econ professor takes the helm in Business Administration

University administration changes and re-org

Urban Sprawl

Leadership Awards


Big Hurts

Dr. Tomas Sebastian passes away after courageous cancer fight

2010 graduate Kayla Mire dies in one-car accident


On the Horizon

Renovated soccer stadium – Another chance at home field advantage!

Hertz Connect – Car rentals, from campus, hourly rate, 18 and older, international license accepted… Yes!

Dining – Attention to turn to Commons, Science Café, Skyline Room

Strategic Plan – Also not sexy. Also a big impact.

Curricular review – See Strategic Plan

Tower lights – Will be ready by fall

No Class Zone – Maybe not this year… But 5-7 common meeting/practice times? Too good to pass on.


ArchiveSecond Annual Review 2009-2010
First Review 2008-2009


What should have made the list? What should have been left off? Make your suggestions. or wite your own blog.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Imposter-ous

 


















 
One may wonder why this post is of interest and my explanation would be that it's the snapshots of life that often paint a picture. Sometimes little things, when viewed together, tell stories of places and people. That's what I try to do with my blog. So, consider this. Mary and Katie were good sports. They were amused by the situation, glad to be photographed without fuss, and both seem cheerful and happy. They are typical of our students in that they are both very likeable, or, put another way, they are kind of alike... That's all.

Internal dialog:
Oh, look, there's Trinity senior Mary W. Wait, that's not Mary, that's someone else.

Real dialog:
Hey, Mary, did you know there is a "Fake Mary" on campus?

Mary:
You are the second person to tell me that - this must be true!

Me:
I will get a picture of her for you.

Me (days later):

:Excuse me, miss, what's your name and may I take a picture of you to share with your doppleganger?

Stranger:

Of course! My name is Katie S (sophomore).

Me:I will send you a picture of Mary W too.

Katie (aka, Fake Mary):
I look forward to it.

Vote, above right, on whether or not you see a resemblance.

My Greek Odyssey


A year ago discussions began about improving the relationship between the administration (primarily me) and Greek alumni and students. A report – one year later – will be posted on the Greek Web page within a month. The directions identified last year to make improvements included the following: develop the Greek Alumni Advisory Council; arrange consulting; review insurance issues; define off-campus events vis-à-vis groups; improve electronic communications; review big brother programs; host a men’s conference; and bring in a sexual assault speaker.

Not only did a lot of people work to make those things happen, but other unanticipated successes took place. Whereas last year the first step was to look at what was broken and how to fix it, this year the new outlook is how to continue our momentum from an incredible year. Again, there is not an expectation of perfection from our students – as individuals and groups. But we need a healthy system that strives for excellence and clubs that strive for distinction. In addition, shifting a culture takes time, so no wonder some students and alumni found the 24-hour delay of bid day due to a winter storm suspicious. But we can live with that.

Anyways, here are some things I learned this year that I hadn’t expected to, and here are some things that happened that I didn’t anticipate:

Accidentally Greek
I learned the benefit of Trinity having a primarily local system. Funny that I learned this more from having my sons look at different colleges. At many other campuses in the state the national Greek life scene dominates the social culture on campus. Part of Trinity’s charm, in general, is its healthy laid back nature. Students don’t come here wanting to fit a particular stereotype, and in fact, a recent survey showed that many come here with little notion of joining Greek life. The reason students join our groups is because they like the people they meet in those groups in casual settings. I call it being accidentally Greek. We offer something pretty unique. Not having formal houses adds to this vibe. I appreciate this more than I did before.

The Death and Resurrection of the Omega Phi Fraternity
Omega Phi lost its way over the past ten years. This isn’t a judgment on the individuals in the group. Former members lamented the way the group deviated from the initial mission of the club. Sticking to one’s core mission is a sure-fire way to ensure longevity and the club lost that and the older alumni base and they floundered. The few remaining members did the right thing by holding on as long as they could, but eventually disbanding. A handful of students and a lot of alumni jumped in to fill the void and the Greek Council jumped in to generously allow the group to start anew. Personally, having strong connections today to many Omega Phi alumni, I am very gratified to see the enthusiasm pouring in as the club gets a new chance – the old way.

The shift of the Greek Calendar for 2011-2012
The staff, particularly those with Greek life experience from other campuses, has often felt the recruitment/orientation calendar was too long and that this created multiple problems. This year, the new Greek Council, in its first month, surveyed new members and came to the same conclusion. The leadership was more focused on two issues. First, there was little time to just “be.” The whole fall was dedicated to rush and the orientation process ended the week after spring break. In a recent meeting, in an extraordinarily bold move, the Greek Council decided to cut orientation in the spring so that it would end the week before spring break begins. The main driver to this was that the weeks before and after spring break were not only the most intense in new member orientation, but were the most intense academic weeks of the semester given the mid-term exam schedule. They decided to delay rush until early October. The student leadership, discussion, and decision-making were phenomenal. The ability of the Council to have conflict with civility, take a risk, and compromise were outstanding examples of the education that takes place through involvement in Greek life.

Strategic Planning
Groups began the process of reviewing their organizations, with assistance from alumni. Specifically, clubs started to review their visions, missions, values, goals, and points of pride and distinction. The University is doing the same thing. This is an incredible exercise to go through and I appreciate the Gammas taking the lead and sharing their results as a model for other clubs.

Mark Sterner
The Greek Council from this past year initiated the Mark Sterner lecture prior to spring break. This intense lecture is by a young man who killed three friends while driving under the influence on their last night of spring break. The clubs mandated their members attend and they sat in pin-drop silence as Mr. Sterner laid bare his excruciating life and times. In addition, the Greeks co-sponsored the sexual assault speaker last fall. They again packed the house by mandating attendance.

In summary, the success in areas that were a focus for us this year was tremendous. The fact that there were no organizational conduct cases of any kind, in University Conduct Boards, or internally within Greek Council, was terrific. The unexpected gains outlined (listed above) are even more gratifying. They represent initiative, creativity, positive momentum, and success for the greater good. And we are just getting started.

Special thanks and acknowledgement to Dr. Raphael Moffett, Director of CCI, the Greek Alumni Advisory Council, and the Greek Council from 2010-2011, the new Greek Council, and the chairs from both.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Counter in TUitive 4.12.11 - Animal Story

This is a regular feature to examine the information in the weekly Trinitonian editorial. I love the Trinitonian and the students who run it. Sometimes, however there are more nuances to the issue than they have space for. Besides, electronic media allows for there to be "watchdog" watchdogs. Editorials are rated by "hits," as in blog hits, with one being worst and 5 being best. If the stories are published on-line I will provide links.

Overall issue review - 4 blog hits
Subtitle: Stream of Consciousness Rant

See April 8, 2011 issue: http://edu.arcasearch.com/us/tr/?paper=___
This is the best year for the Trinitonian that I can remember. So, imagine my surprise and shock to see a large page one photo of what appears to be a student, dressed like a student (not like a hunter), hovering over a dead and bloodied bear, with a knife in hand. (The student had the knife, not the bear -- or the picture may have reflected a far different result.) Maybe it is the smile on his face (again, the student, not the bear)... maybe it is the pristine pick-up truck in the background that might suggest this is a roadkill incident... or maybe it is the fact that there is no caption or story, so we are left to make up our own: "Student tragically kills roommate at a surprise costume party at a nearby truck dealership..." But something seems strange about this.

Fortunately, there is a reference to an accompanying story on page 15. This makes me wonder, do I want to read about this, really? Of course I do. It is here that I learn that the bear is actually a boar. Huhh? I don't know if I feel better or worse. Why did the student kill a boar with a knife and look so happy about it? Turns out he hunts boars, with dogs and said knife. Huhh? He apparently shoots animals too, but prefers this kind of hunting, in which he and the dogs corner the boar (which can often come in 12-packs AND weigh as much as 400 pounds), and then murder the boar with a knife because it will "eat your crops." Huhh? Boars are such boors when it comes to wanting to... eat.

I know, I am probably not keen on stories like this, being a vegeterian and all (with the "all" being hating to see things killed). But the story raises bigger questions, such as, why is this in the Trinitonian? There is no apparent context except the photo makes readers want to know why this happy, clean-cut student murdered a bear. I mean boar. And that's another thing. Why is there no blood on this guy. What, does he think he's OJ? But I digress. The story doesn't mention anything to tie the story to Trinity. I guess we are to assume that it is just understood, here at TU, that every once-in-awhile we all want to be treated to a good bear/boar/boor murder story.

The story goes on to quote another student (who is a pretty good little basketball player) who went to Canada on Thanksgiving to shoot a moose. I note several ironies in that one sentence, by the way. He likes to do this rather than doing touristy things. He said that. He bagged his moose, noting, "You don't realize how big a moose is, until you get up close to it, and you get to appreciate the animal." Before, that is, you shoot it with a gun. And give thanks, I suppose.

Other stories include one about a pack of dogs attacking a jogger, not a boar, and one linking Facebook to depression. There is actually a picture of the attacking dogs taken by Grounds Chief, Mike Schweitzer, who had been talking to the jogger while in a golf cart (the jogger wasn't in the golf cart, being a jogger and all, with the "all" being about running from dogs, who may or may not be accompanied by a student with a knife.) Mike, realizing my lawn wouldn't cut itself, no doubt, had driven off, only to see the attack, turn his golf cart around, race to the scene, take pictures of the dogs, call TUPD, and then assist the woman... I'm pretty sure in that order.

What is this, Trinity Geographic? And the main editorial is about the elimination of the senior capstone course? Are you kidding me? Can you say missed opportunity? After seeing all this... I give up. I think I'll just take my chances with Facebook.