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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
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...


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.