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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Modern Extra

Trinity graduate Miguel (Mike) Guerra ('10) hits the big time in this past week's episode of Modern Family. Mike makes his first appearance at around the 14 minute mark when Mitchell hands him a flier at a food court. He appears again about 17 minutes in when he turns spectator at a harp performance.

This is likely only the beginning for Mike, who played in several Trinity productions and served on the Residential Life staff as a Resident Mentor. Mike moved out to LA and has clearly continued to hone his craft. In the background you can see the guy who played Al Bundy in "Married With Children."

Jerheme Urban, John Cornyn, Barney the Dinosaur... Make room for Mike Guerra. (I knew he would make network TV one day. I really did. Really!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ring Toss

I try to be a good sport. Usually, when people ask me to participate in silly things, I do so. I am thrilled that someone thinks my participation can be a draw, though I understand mostly people want to laugh at a Dean doing the un-Deanlike. Last year I participated in the ASR Chocolate Festival booth game of milk-pong, a derivation of a popular drinking game. And I still haven't lived down my awkward music video with Michael Elder.

I have drawn the line at dunk tanks, because I look better dry than wet, and because I don't need to be any more of a target than I already am. As a young Resident Director I participated in a pie throwing contest in which a student I kicked out of the dorm took the opportunity to aggressively smash the pie in my face. Lesson learned.

The most unusual request I have received, though, was last week from my colleague Caroline Keener in Intramurals. She invited me, Dr. Raphael Moffett, Ben Newhouse (shown above... above), and Josh Beebe, all of Campus & Community Involvement, to wrestle one another in an exhibition for the annual IM wrestling tournament on February 27 and 28. Naturally, we all declined. First, I am not a wrestler and also not a big touch-er. Second, I think we would all look stupid. Really stupid. Which is what I think students really respond to. I also think that Caroline didn't really think this through. I think students would be really into it until we would actually start to wrestle. Then I think there would be lots of awkwardness and a lots of let-down.

Fortunately, for Mitch Hagney, I had just turned down this request when I received an e-mail from him asking me to be a dunk tank participant in TUVAC's World Water Day on March 22. Feeling like a kill-joy already, I am prepared to help out Mitch. Students will pay a nominal fee to dunk professors and administrators and the proceeds will go toward water projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mitch thinks it would be a huge hit if I would participate, which is code for he thinks I would look stupid. Which I think students really respond to.

But at least I don't have to wrestle. So Mitch, you're on. Who can argue against water projects in Africa? Besides, I think I could do much worse. And already have.

Photo doctoring by Clara Wells.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Food for Thought

Last night ARAMARK management and Association of Student Representatives members held a town hall meeting to further introduce changes in dining services as previously reported in the Trinitonian. For those who missed the town hall, click here to see a video presentation. As the interim VP for Student Affairs I oversee campus dining services, which we contract out to ARAMARK.

Over the past year ARAMARK, the administration, and ASR have worked closely to evaluate dining services and make recommendations for improvements. While ongoing assessment revealed generally satisfied student customers, complaints have lingered about value, variety, quality, and nutritious options. The plan that was presented by ARAMARK, and approved by the University, addresses those issues and more.

There had not been a major overhaul of dining services for over 20 years. The new all-you-care-to-eat plan brings Trinity in line with most other campuses. The flex dollars offer other choices for students around campus. An additional option for juniors and seniors allows more flexibility for those who are in their third and fourth years on campus. For employees, the planned new Science Cafe, possible upgrades to Java City in the library and the Skyline Room in the Coates University Center, as well as a planned renovation of theCommons and the installation of an Einstein Brothers Bagels this summer should create exciting and affordable meal choices.

The new door rate in Mabee Hall may also entice employees to lower campus and a special faculty/staff plan is being considered. The ARAMARK improvements, at their expense, will allow them to make drastic changes. Those changes will be assessed and the dining program will be reviewed again in five years. In the meantime, the Chapman POD will allow the University to examine its impact on Java City and to be able to plan for a Science Cafe. That Cafe may become part of a hub of campus life in what will be a remarkable new facility. The video presentation does not address it, but there will be a conceptual redevelopment of the snack bar in Prassel residence hall.

Please use this blog post to offer feedback and pose questions.

Update on March 29, 2011: A Guide to Choosing the Meal Plan

Urban Sprawl

San Antonio mayor Julian Castro has worked with the community to develop an aggressive road map of the city's future called SA2020. The plan addresses important issues, including poverty, education, health, water and energy, and public transportation. A related proposal calls for the development of the Broadway corridor, which essentially runs from Alamo Heights to downtown. This is exciting news for Trinity and comes on the heels of the planned expansion of the north section of the San Antonio river. That expansion will essentially create a link from Brackenridge Park to the far south side.

The Broadway corridor, would it become reality, means that Trinity will have greater pedestrian and bicycle connections to a growing residential and commercial area. In addition, a streetcar system may be the centerpiece of this corridor. Up till now, most students have moved west and northwest of campus. In the next decade, seniors may find themselves moving to the east and southeast into a dynamic neighborhood that is on the verge of being adjacent to campus. The development may spill over to the North St. Mary's Street entertainment area as well.

While these changes may not impact any of us directly, given the long-term nature of the proposed changes, imagine Trinity with a stronger connection to the downtown area. Trinity has suffered the lack of a safe neighborhood area that students could routinely visit. (Think 6th Street in Austin.) The proposed changes would undoubtedly make the University's location in a big city, equally close to downtown and the airport, an even more attractive destination for future students.

Friday, February 4, 2011

nICE Day at Trinity

Students took advantage of the snow day on February 4 to play with the fluffy white stuff. Two of these juniors are no strangers to snow but were up around 7 a.m. to play. The third student, from Texas, built the mini-snowman and dubbed it LeeRoy. I have never seen happier students.

Above and below, students engage in two of the most pathetic snowball fights ever. One worried whether or not snowball fights were against the rules. I assured them we had never anticipated needing such a rule in San Antonio and gave them the green light.

In my parental way, I urged this student on crutches to be cautious on the campus ice. He then reassured me by showing off his "ice boot" on the crutch. He put the equivalent of tire chains on his gear in order to avoid slippage. Clever. Below, Trinity mechanic Richard Ibarra joined the "essential personnel" to help shovel snow and melt ice around campus. As a Wisconsin native I would consider the crew spirited and effective. For amateurs.

Previous post.

Glazed Donut

The Trinity campus closed today, in line with other universities and schools throughout the area. Frigid temperatures, snow, and ice created hazardous conditions throughout Texas. Above, note the iced over Miller Fountain in the center of campus. Bid Day, when new students find out about their invitation to fraternities and sororities, was planned for today, but postponed until tomorrow. This is certainly disappointing to active members and those awaiting bids. The Crisis Management Team cancelled all scheduled activities. See the slide show at right for bid day from two years ago. By waiting for warmer weather tomorrow, hopefully there can be a safe and enthusiastic celebration.

Pictured below is the acequia at Northrup Hall, also frozen, and with light snow in the background. (I klnow. But it is a big deal to US!) Click here for subsequent post.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BRRRRRRRaving the Cold!

An Arctic blast stifling the nation has penetrated the Trinity Bubble. Temperatures that are below freezing have led to rolling state-mandated (sounds eastern European) black-outs. By mid-day the San Antonio area, including TU, has dealt with three such interruptions. The Crisis Management Team met in the morning and decided since there were no health and safety issues (icy roads) that school would remain open and that professors would decide individually if they could instruct their classes depending on when the black-outs occurred. Most schools and businesses seem to be taking similar approaches.

I am pleased to report that there have been minimal issues under the circumstances and the faculty, staff, students, and parents are taking the situation in stride. Pictured above is a student in the Commons preparing to go back outside after a meal in the dark. The power went off around lunch time and students who had purchased their meals were able to eat. The serving lines close during the 20 minute outages because the registers stop working. Those already in line can have their meal card information taken manually. If the power were out longer, then all of the students would be managed this way.

A packed audience from around the city was on campus for a presentation by Dr. Christine Drennon as part of the Food for Thought lunch/lecture series. The program was conducted, in part anyways, in the dark, and without Power Point. The professor rocked it anyways.

This is as close as our students get to a snow day. It is nice to have a break in the action and something else to focus on. Reverend Nickle has been wanting us to have a "Technology Sabbath," which would be a voluntary holiday from our gadgets. This is getting us there, though students can still text during the black-outs. Our students would still prefer we just call it a day, in spite of reports we may need to deal with this for several days. Witness this actual e-mail exchange between me and a student:

In light of the recent power outages, which have deactivated my alarm clock, and the numbingly cold weather that nobody is prepared for... Why aren't classes cancelled again?

Uhhh. You are from Alaska.

Hahahaha foiled again. I tried.

Kendra really IS from Anchorage! And today, I think we all feel as though we are too.