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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breaking Bad

Rick and me at student move-in this year.

It takes a special person to be my friend. Just ask Rick Roberts. He is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. Me? Not so much. I am more of a germ-o--phobe. I have in fact loaned Rick running gear, at his request, but I never give him my best stuff... because I would never feel right wearing it again.

The last few months have been difficult for me. I have been losing many of my best Trinity guy friends. I have known Rick for a long time. He and his wife, Dacia, are godparents to my daughter Kellyn. Rick and I have logged a lot of running miles together and he is a great listener. He is going to Texas Lutheran University to be their vice president for advancement. He deserves it. But... personal wing man: Gone.

Raphael Moffett WAS the director of Campus & Community Involvement here. He was actually the first to go. One day in August he told me we needed to talk about this great opportunity he had to be a vice president. I tried to make my pitch to keep him but I never had a chance. He had already taken the job. He skipped being a Dean of Students and went right to VP for Student Affairs at Langston University in Oklahoma. Raphael was becoming my go-to guy in Student Affairs. He was also becoming a close friend. But for the sake of scoring... professional wing man: Gone.

Ben Newhouse skipped a step too. He was slated to take over Raphael Moffett's position, but instead took the Dean of Students position at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. He was actually stolen by a good colleague (and now FORMER friend), Dave Eberhardt. Ben has been here twice now, professionally. You really should only leave Trinity once. But I can't begrudge Ben his decision either, though I do. He will be a great Dean of Students and that was evident this week hearing students speak about him at his farewell reception. He is my combo guy (personal and professional): Gone.

Losing Rick and Raphael is especially tough for another reason. They were key members of our "The Administrators" basketball team. Mark Detterick also left this summer putting us in serious rebuilding mode.

So I will respond the way any normal guy would. I will watch TV, eat chips, and stop doing laundry. Oh wait, I already do that. But I will eventually need some testosterone-based companionship. VP Chuck White and I are friends, but he doesn't know it. So he's out. Chris Ellertson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment, would be great but he works too much and has nicer clothes than me. Eric Maloof travels too much. So he's out. Soccer coach Paul McGinlay is cool, but he's British. No. This is going to take some time. Desperate times call for one thing, and one thing only -- a  survey. That's right, I am taking friendship requests through Survey Monkey.

So candidates, step on up. Please take my survey! I might be a little high maintenance and somewhat self-absorbed. I don't drink, smoke, or eat meat. But I'm a lot of fun at parties. Well... at small gatherings. I am loyal. I am not needy. And for as long as the University will have me, I'm not going anywhere. I am a great catch.

I will miss you Rick, and Raph, and Ben. But someone will want me. Won't they?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remembering The Man, Paul Jurgens

Alice and John Sheldon on the San Antonio Riverwalk, September, 2012.
Alice (Jurgens) Sheldon and her husband John Sheldon visited Trinity University this week to meet our TSA puppy - and to help the campus community commemorate the 9/11 eleventh anniversary. Their visit was covered by the local newspaper and a local television affiliate. Those outlets had previously covered the story of The Dog Jurgens in print and on the air.

In short, TSA breeds and raises puppies to become bomb-sniffing airport working animals. In the first year, the puppies are sent to foster families with intermittent visits back to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for more specialized training. The puppies are all named for 9/11 victims. Trinity University students and staff put in a request to foster a puppy and were rewarded with a year-long experience with The Dog Jurgens. She will be returned to TSA on October 5, 2012.

The TSA doesn't contact families about the namesake puppies, but they don't prohibit foster families from doing so. We received The Dog Jurgens last December and reached out to the family of Paul Jurgens in mid-winter. John Sheldon was the initial point of contact. As Paul's brother-in-law he has remained active in maintaining a We and foundation presence and he still closely follows the fate of terrorists awaiting justice.

Over the course of the last several months, John, Paul's widow Maria, and a number of other relatives have followed the adventures of The Dog Jurgens from afar. In our budding relationship with John, the University asked to host him and Alice for a visit to meet Jurgens in person. They gave up their usual family-oriented ceremonies with the family in New York City to be with the Trinity community.

Over the course of their two day visit they visited the campus 9/11 memorial garden, toured the TSA training facilities at Lackland, were interviewed by students in a 9/11 program, and met and spent play time with The Dog Jurgens, with whom they forged an instant and lasting bond. Most chilling was learning that the family didn't know that Paul would be near ground zero. He called in to his department to say he was headed there after the first plane hit. Only later in the day did suspicions arise and worst fears were realized. he was missing.

Their visit was extremely meaningful for the Trinity students and staff. Learning more about Paul Jurgens helps personalize - for the rest of us - the national tragedy of 9/11. In fact, Alice wasn't sure that there was still much interest from those outside of the hardest hit communities. I recently heard a woman named Jo Lucker give a talk about how you can't take away grief but you can show you care. This foster program and the Sheldon visit helps us show one family that this little campus in San Antonio cares about what happened. We hope John, Alice, and their relatives feel that they are part of the Trinity family now. They were a huge hit here and everyone loved them!

John did something I wish more guest speakers and lecturers would do. He did his homework on us: He looked at our Website and spoke to people in education about us. Having spent time with him this is not surprising. He and Alice are warm, personable, humble, caring, fun, and interested in others. That shouldn't be surprising either. That's how people describe Paul Jurgens.