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Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Smarts

After several months in the Coates Library the Dean of Students Office has been moved to its latest permanent destination in the Coates University Center. The move is part of the University's relocation of Admissions to the upper campus in Northrup Hall. Bet you thought it was gonna be named Coates.

Despite much whining about the lack of accessibility and meeting space, I did learn some interesting things in the library. The first was that it was more social and lively than I imagined. It has a nice vibe. I learned that the women of Alpha Chi Lambda pretty much owned the central seating area. I also noted their chagrin when a man from the community plopped down in their territory once. Lots of headphones went on and plenty of eyes rolled. I don't know who I felt worse for.

On the flip side, I do believe I could have taken many more pictures like the ones below.
Energy and rest. A good combination.

Finally, one day I snapped the photo at right of Helene Barnes. I thought it was neat that on her day
off from Teach for America that this 2013 grad decided to return to her roots and come back to the library where it all began. I told her I appreciated her loyalty. She told me she was pretty much just waiting for her boyfriend to get out of class. Close enough.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our students are so weird

Yesterday the Facebook page "Overheard at Trinity" exploded, among other things, with several photo shop images and memes of the Dean of Students. Aside from drawing the conclusion that our students are loveable but strange, here are some other conclusions I have arrived at.

1. Our students are not as busy as they say.
2. Most of our students are horrible at photo shop.
3. I still don't like my last name.
4. Thanksgiving break can't get here soon enough.
5. I am not a pretty woman.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Bazaar

I love Happy People. Especially Laurel (background).
Let's just get this out of the way. As a vegetarian for almost 25 years, I still love the smell of bacon. But, if you must know, I love fake bacon. No gummy, greasy, membranes and fat and stuff. Not sure what I am eating with fake bacon, but I will call it a draw, at a minimum.

Last week I moved into my newest office, and it is in the Coates University Center. It is my ninth or tenth office at trinity. I have lost count. I have worked here as long as I haven't eaten meat. That's weird. So imagine my surprise to smell bacon in the Coates Center lobby this week. Yes, I inhaled. I do the same around secondhand smoke. As a former smoker - yes, since about 25 years ago - I still love the smell. I may be the only one that smokers try to get away from rather than the other way around.

The bacon purveyors were members of this new group on campus called Happy People. How can you not love a group whose mission is to spread happiness? I love them. But, I think I hurt their feelings them when I passed up taking some of their free joyful bacon. I told them I was part of a group named Happy Pigs which didn't want me to eat them. I may be the only one who follows smokers around AND offends Happy People. AND I don't wear cause ribbons. I need a secret entrance to my office.

The bacon sellers are only the latest group to have turned the Coates Center lobby into a market. Some days you can't get through the lobby without being barraged about buying a shirt to save/stop something, signing up for an event, pinning on a bow, or basically about changing your life. I would be a broke man if I bought everything students were trying to sell me. I don't even carry cash anymore. It makes me look cheap. And I AM cheap, but now students know it. Part of me wants it all to stop! The other part of me wants me to remind you that you can give to my Kayla Mire Food Drive in the Coates lobby next week (or give virtually). Because my cause is important. And you can donate bacon just this once.

There are some tentative changes in the works for the Coates Center pending approval later this year. The information desk is gone, because we didn't need one with the new one going into Northrup this September. That one is gone too now. Oops. We donated some leather furniture from the lobby to Northrup and we didn't want the University to spend more when we were looking to replace these anyway. And we wanted to let some animals keep their leather. But for the time being, the Coates lobby looks a little bit sad and like a pig sty. Sorry.

Hopefully the mailboxes will be relocated this summer, and the Coates Center will breathe. With night-time food service returning to the Commons the Coates Center is being resuscitated. Furniture options are being considered for downstairs and the mail area and the upstairs Alumni Lounge will be called the Loft. Trust me. What's more, the Counseling and Career area will be re-envisioned and a center for engagement may sprout up on the second floor of Coates. These are exciting times.

It makes sense to bring lots of life to Coates. Our current students deserve a student union feel in the building. We will look at multiple seating styles and areas that will allow for small study groups, eating, working, charging mobile devices, and even sleeping. And with the new admissions center across the way - with its black leather furniture and lack of an information desk - we need a place for prospective students and families to come and observe campus life up close and personal. Although that sounds like a zoo. Cruelty free.

Which brings us back to where we started. Whether it is bacon, free jewelry, YMCA memberships, or baked goods from the Trinity Women's Club, this aspect of Trinity life won't change. Hopefully the area from the esplanade, through the lobby, and out the north side of the Mail Center plaza can be a place where we can continue to buy, sell, and barter. We need a place for our Wednesday nacho hours and our Friday Bella-Tone concerts. We need a place that lives, breathes, and even smells. Day and night. It will be hog heaven. Oink.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Distance Learning

In a parking lot north of downtown we stopped to discuss the day's run before heading back to campus.Some of the responses: I am surprised that in our own city that this happens; It is amazing that just a few blocks away, life goes on - on the river walk - and people have no clue...; The smell of urine is what sticks in my mind; I felt like an outsider - like who was I to RUN where they were; It was depressing; I said hi to people and tried to look them in the eye; Gratitude. I felt grateful for what I have; I want to get involved - I want to volunteer and help; I can't believe this is so close to where we live...

Training for the Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge offers an opportunity to teach participants a number of things. The goals of the program, now in its sixth year, are to teach students their mental and physical capacities of resilience. Indeed many feel they would never have imagined running 13.1 miles. For others, the goal is to achieve a milestone and check something off of their bucket lists.

Because training groups usually run for a charity, we do a food drive. The Kayla Mire Food Drive is named for 2010 graduate Kayla Mire who died in a one car accident shortly after graduation. She was an advocate for the needy. A food drive requires a light commitment of time and money for our students and supporters, so is perfect for those in college.

San Antonio provides an outstanding classroom for issues related to socioeconomic disparity, especially when it is in evidence all within walking - or running - distance. Our training starts in August with runs through the wealthier neighborhoods of Olmos Park and Alamo Heights. In late October the group does the annual homeless run. The participants this year are pictured above. We run downtown on Main Street and then turn toward the area of town where Haven for Hope and other services are based. And we run through streets where the poor and homeless are just hanging out.

What impressed me most about our young scholars was their empathy, the depth of their reflections, and how easily they went from person to person to discuss what they noticed and what they felt. Their professors and families have taught them well. The run isn't made to put the homeless on display. We are just running where we live. I look forward to it and dread it every year. But the jolt helps us break out of our bubble and see that right here, where we live, people need us. We get to go home, and eat, and rest comfortably. They don't.

Please consider contributing to this year's food drive by contributing online at this virtual food drive link from the San Antonio Food Bank. (After you click on Start you can click Skip if you want to pass the shopping spree.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Killing me lightly

For the past year the Trinity University Murchison Tower has been sporting festive accent lights in its upper four windows. In last week's Trinitonian, the skilled and controversy-stirring Ben Conway opined about his issues with these lights.

Of course, I should explain that this is a project I have been intimately involved with. It dates back to ASR wanting to do something for the holidays to compete with the "Light the Way" Incarnate Word University lights. The idea was to do something unique to Trinity, something understated by comparison to our neighbors, and something attention-grabbing. As those students moved on, I was left to pursue this project. My former VPs wouldn't advance my modest capital request for funding, citing other priorities, so I did it myself when I was interim VP.

Lighting the tower was the perfect response to our neighbors and to do something different. In Ben's column, unfortunately not published on-line, he takes issues with the lights as being tacky and in some ways as defiling of the monument the tower is to this bastion of education.

Indeed, the initial plan was to line the tower in lights from top to bottom ala some of the buildings of downtown Dallas. This proved to be too expensive. That is probably good. Our first lighting guy, Shawn, suggested that we just outline the windows. This has turned out well, in my opinion. The lights are not over-powering, can be seen throughout campus and from the highway and neighborhood, but do not overwhelm.

The lights themselves, are a series of small tubes and they can be lit for holidays and special occasions. They are currently pink, because it is October. Other shows include ones for Christmas, Hanukah, Halloween, New Year's elction days, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, and more. They are not always lit, but are illuminated for these special occasions. The best part for me, is that our second light guy, Mike, has set up these lights so I no longer physically have to run up to the top of the tower to change SIM cards. With his expertise and the hard work of Clara Wells in my office I can manage the light shows from an app on my phone. This is probably the only real power I have on campus.

That the lights disrespect or commercialize our great institution seems a flawed argument. We aren't the first to do this. One need only look at Big Ben, the Empire State Building, and the Eiffel Tower to see that we are in decent company. (Surely some French dude is out there blogging about the Trinity Tower in his own lighting defense.) In San Antonio the Quarry smoke stacks, to the north, are lit, and to the south, so is the Tower of the Americas.

I know, if someone jumped off of a festively lit bridge, would we? No. But we are not out of line with these sweet little lights: They are festive, fun, measured, tasteful, and draw attention to this beautiful campus. They show innovation and that we don't take ourselves too seriously - except for maybe me. Their installation was supported by the student government and the alumni. They show that we are not just internally focused, but are part of this festive city. For these reasons, they gently add to the fabric of what makes us stand-out in a crowded educational marketplace.

So it is my way... or the Conway. Vote on the poll at right.

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Boss Time - The Mansion on the Hill

Editor's Note: This Blog is generally about life on Trinity Hill. Imagine my excitement when Trinitonian writer Mason Walker wrote a tribute piece to rock icon Bruce Springsteen. Thank you, Mason, for opening the door for me to comment on the Promised Land.

In Mason Walker's recent Trinitonian article about the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, he talks about some of his favorite selections from Born in the USA, in particular. (He even picks an obscure number from Devil's and Dust, too, which marks him as a credible critic.) He is young though (Mason, not Bruce), so I will forgive him for identifying Born in the USA as Bruce's top rock hit. He's close. The one number Bruce can never leave out of his stadium shows is his first major hit and the rock anthem Born to Run. It is often the concert closer before the encore, or played early in the extra set.

If you are a college student wondering what makes the likes of Mason and Cade Bradshaw (an equally bright Springsteen officiondo) such fans, consider some other numbers, aside from Born to Run, that I would identify as must-haves in putting together any Bruce starter set.

1. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - 1973
There's a little cafe, on the south side of the border...

2. Badlands - 1978
From the first Bruce album I ever bought, Darkness on the Edge of Town features several other awesome revved up rockers.

3. The Rising - 2002
This post 9/11 album of the same title  is one of his best modern albums from start to finish.

4. Thundercrack live - released in 1998
The tracks four-disc set is a treasure of rarities and studio out-takes. This track is a revived favorite on tour.

5. Land of Hope and Dreams - 2002
This live version actually pre-dates the studio version from the most recent Wrecking Ball CD.

There are so many more from his VAST catalog. Which of your favorites did I miss?

Bonus Track: Wings for Wheels

Where have you gone Mrs. Wetherbee...

Flanked by Bill and Diane Wetherbee at the 2013 graduation of Kaitlin.

For the first time in about eight years Diane Wetherbee missed Fall Family Weekend. More accurately, her presence was probably missed most at the ParentTalk coffee at my residence. Every FFW Saturday morning we pull together ParentTalkers so those on the listserv can meet one another in person. The listserv is a great outlet for parents who want to stay connected, ask questions, share frustrations, and raise issues - (usually) without embarrassing their kids.An outdoor enthusiast, Mrs. Wetherbee ironically found her niche in cyber space.

As the parent of Kelsey ('10) and Kaitlin )'13), Mrs. Wetherbee was a ParentTalk regular, and at the annual FFW coffees I usually tried to take a moment to introduce her, as the "Grand Dame" of ParentTalk. She left the list late this summer, and with her departure, a void in ParentTalk memory banks. Luckily her advice and guidance to other parents will live on through the archives search function. Diane offered parents excellent suggestions, reassurance, and hope, for whatever problems they may have been dealing with. She also was contacted off-line by a lot of folks. As with parents from the first iteration of the list up unhtil today, she is one of many ParentTalk legends: Bruce, Cory, Diane B, Jean, Jill, Leslie, and many others. (Maybe it is time for a ParentTalk Hall of Fame!) Offering advice in a non-patronizing manner is an art, and she excelled at it.

Students sometimes roll their eyes when their parents talk about this unique outlet for parental angst. It is a list for parents and by parents and gives them a chance to be in community with others in similar situations. This generation of parents is used to involvement and sending students away to college is a big deal. So they have each other, and that angst they might otherwise be heaping on their kids can be processed and deflected by experienced parents. And for those who want to just read from the sidelines - they are called "lurkers" - they can get a lot of behind-the-scenes information.

Our parents are like or students - even more-so. I like them and rarely feel they are of the helicopter ilk. They care about the safety, success, and well-being of their kids. So do we. And they have a terrific outlet to do so, with one another, through ParentTalk. So the list goes on, and new voices replace the former ones. Diane continues her active life on as well. She is as a part-time educator and naturalist at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, a 2,000-acre wildlife management area located about 30 miles north of Dallas. She is finishing her doctorate in forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University. (Think her daughters can keep up?) 

We miss you Mrs. Wetherbee! Thank you or helping other parents in their own parenting journeys and for making the Trinity experience one that is so inclusive of family members.

Editors Note: It was really hard for me not to end with a "thanks for helping parents see the forest for the trees" joke.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sending the Right Messages

Members of the Student Affairs staff presented two extremely well-done programs as part of New Student Orientation this past week. The first program was on day two. It is a program on Bystander Intervention and is intentionally heavy for so early on. But the idea is to be proactive right from the start.

With a focus on sexual assault, Kristin Eisenhauer, Senior Staff Psychologist, led a team in preparing and presenting this important program. The emphasis of the program is on looking out for one another. It takes the onus from victims of assault and charges everyone with community-based responsibility for watching out for students who may be in trouble, students who may get themselves in trouble, and students who are, well, just standing by. It is a powerful program that extends to other areas (homophobic slurs, for example) and teaches students ways to stand up for what is right.

At a time when many institutions are under fire for under-responding to sexual assault, institutions are searching for ways to address complex issues involved in sexual assaults on campus. Trinity has updated its Web page and policy recently in an effort to be in even more transparent compliance with Title IX. That legislation requires schools to offer education. The Bystander Intervention program hits all the right notes in doing so. Trinity has long been ahead of the curve in having transparent policies and public information via the Web to address these serious issues in order to do the right thing - not just be in compliance.

Alison and Jasmeen
Doing the right thing includes addressing the important social issues that can arise on diverse campuses such as Trinity's. The national award winning program "The Story of Our Community Begins With You," was updated and presented on Sunday night of New Student Orientation. The program is not the same old thing regarding diversity. It is intended to be inclusive of everyone and broaden the definition beyond race. Many of us, here, tired of programs that started with "we all bring diversity" and then focused only on race. Still a major element of diversity, this program also offers information on non-traditional students, students with disabilities, body image, age, and more. The program was masterfully coordinated by Soisouda Inthavong Smith with many faculty, staff, and student presenters. Unfortunately a technical glitch interrupted this short, homegrown, and excellent video on religion, but it has been sent to the new students in their class newsletter.

The program ends with a clip from a John Quinones/Oprah show that involves bystander intervention - of all things. Following the clip, the students got to meet the two real-life heroes in the clip, Trinity grads Alison Talbert and Jasmeen Waliany. They stepped up against discrimination of a Muslim woman.

While I know I am boasting on my deserving staff, I do so unapologetically. They delivered some knock-out programs. It isn't just my perception that these programs hit their marks. While the assessment of orientation, overall, will be conducted in a few days, our assessment-oriented team did some on-site surveys after these two programs. Initial findings on the intervention program show that 67% feel very prepared and 33% feel somewhat prepared to help someone in our community as bystanders. In the diversity program a sample of the assessment data shows that 87% of the students strongly agree or agree that they want to explore more about their identity as a result of the program. And, 83% were able to reflect on one new aspect of their identity.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From my perspective...

New Student Orientation and Welcome Week drew to a close on Tuesday, August 27 as students prepared for the 2013-14 academic year before classes started the next morning. Above is a photo I took as part of the platform party at Laurie Auditorium at the new student convocation. Student Nupur Agrawal gave an excellent talk before students approached tables - in a very orderly fashion - to sign the honor code. (I like the way Nupur says A-CAD--a-mick.)

Following the convocation, students exited Laurie Auditorium passing through a gauntlet of faculty and staff members and returning students offering congratulations and welcome. For the first time ever we had a huge crowd on hand, including many students from fraternities, sororities and athletic teams. I believe this has become the event former VP Gage Paine envisioned many years ago. I suspect CCI Coordinator Briana McGlamory and the leadership of our fraternities and sororities made this happen, and I hope it is seen as a great tradition henceforth. Check out the video, below, that I think gives a pretty good sense of the fun and energy as new students wound through the newly designed academic space in the heart of campus. They followed this walk with an ARAMARK sponsored all-campus picnic around the Miller Fountain and the traditional Tower climb, where new students shook the hand of President Dennis Ahlburg, who awaited them at the top.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Caper Diem

Sunday night's Coates Caper program, an annual social event for all students as part of Welcome Week, was perhaps the best iteration in years. Students Were able to go to different areas of the building, which featured karaoke, dancing, food, more food, large tricycle racing, t-shirt tie-dyeing, and picture-taking with the Tiger mascot. Additionally, students waited in long lines to make wax hands and have caricatures of themselves drawn. Finally, some drummers from the TU Stand Band made an appearance on the Esplanade and both the Acabellas and Trinitones performed inside the main lobby, to the delight of the other students.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wanted: A new fleet... at K-TU

An unorthodox, yet successful admissions campaign was launched in 2010 by Trinity University when the staff stumbled upon young Katie Ogawa from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Like the AT&T ad campaign, our own "We want more" Katie Ogawa project was conceived. Most universities go for diversity. In our case, we found a good thing, and set out to find a whole fleet of Katie Ogawas.

One Katie Ogawa is a neat-freak (for the greater good, of course). We have a Katie Ogawa who went to Africa and another who spends spring break in Dominica. Hope Hall is a huge project, so we have several Katies on the job there. But we have Katie volunteers everywhere. Another has been recognized for her leadership skills.Finally, we have a pretty spiritual Katie, who goes on something called the Plunge.

The truth is, we have so many Katie's, we have lost track. We show a rare shy one on the Support Trinity page, She wouldn't even look at the camera.. On one post card (upper left), sent to prospective Katies, we show two of them - one cooking and one jumping. On a fundraising brochure (upper right), one is pictured with HOPE Hall while a running Katie is shown with the Trinity half marathon group, again, on the same piece. In a recent Admissions mailing one is pictured, while a more articulate one is quoted (center, above). And finally, two Katie's were featured in the same alumni magazine last January: One Katie is selling shirts (lower right), the other is back in Africa with some girl (lower left). I am as guilty as anyone, as I have featured one on my 2012 (yellow visor) half marathon page and again on my 2011 page.

Our Katie Ogawas are fantastic. Bright, personable, athletic, conscientious, out-going, quotable, and of course, photogenic. But the Katie Ogawa project is winding down. No one looked ahead to what might happen when the 2010 Katies would graduate in 2014. They will be missed, to be sure. We have a year for Admissions to get cracking, though. Surely there are more out there! So I will start the ball rolling by calling all Katie Ogawas: please check out our tour app, featuring one of our Katies. If you come here LOTS of opportunities await. And if you are one of a kind? We'll take you too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Strategies Related to Drinking Unveiled

This fall the Dean of Students and Residential Life Offices are partnering to implement a new program to help educate students about binge drinking. Indeed, students will be offered an incentive to not drink too much. Additionally, an alcohol-optional Saturday night program series is being initiated to give students a weekend option other than off-campus parties. Finally, the members of Chi Delta Tau, the Dean of Students Office, and Yellow Cab are partnering to put a Tiger Taxi ride in place to reduce drinking and driving.

The most radical of these strategies is the B-Low Optimal breathalyzer program. All first year students are supposed to attend the Trinity-grown Optimal Buzz program started by Dr. Richard Reams in Counseling Services. This unique program teaches students who drink to respect their sweet-spot, or the point when diminishing returns set in (black-outs, alcohol poisoning, drunk dialing your roommate's cute sister). As a pilot program, the staff will allow Calvert Hall residents who are identified for alcohol violations, to voluntarily submit to breathalyzer readings. If students are within or below the Optimal Buzz range they will get a consequence-free warning (up to three). There are many more details, but the idea should be evident: Not binge-drinking? You may be eligible for a break on the penalty.

This, and the other initiatives listed below, mesh with the campus alcohol philosophy: we acknowledge that students will drink, we promote student health and safety, and we enforce policies that the law obliges. If the program is assessed and received favorably, it will be expanded. If not, we will be selling an Alcomate Premium Alcoscan AL 7000 on Craig's List.The

There is no shortage of events on campus, including on weekends. The University offers a spate of athletic events, musical and theatrical performances, and other cultural or social activities on most weekends.  San Antonio offers a wide array of events and places to go as well. Rarely do students report having nothing to do. However, some students report that off-campus parties seem to be the primary social outlets for those wanting to be with groups of other students.

Interestingly, according to a fall 2012 National Collegiate Health Assessment from the American College Health Association and an internal Health and Wellness survey, about one quarter to one third of students, including our own are doing the heavy drinking. This means 65-75% of our students don't drink heavily. Many don't drink at all. This is pretty typical of traditional college students. (As an aside, most non-drinkers perceive that there are more heavy drinkers than there are, mostly because they are loud. Most drinkers think everyone drinks because among their peers, they do.)

Off campus private parties are generally where unencumbered binge-drinking happens most. (Fall 2013 statistics show over 75% of drinking is happening off campus.) As a result, the Association of Student Representatives is funding a one semester pilot program to offer coffeehouse style programming in the Skyline Room every Saturday this fall to provide a social alternative.

The Student Programming Board is already scheduling musical acts, comedians, date nights and more. What's more, the events are scheduled as late night events - starting at 9 or 10pm - to go head-to-head with late night off campus parties. The usual heavier drinkers will still have their social outlets, but the ones looking for on campus avenues for fun socializing will at least have such opportunities. The program isn't exclusively for non-drinkers and non-partiers. Because the Skyline Room has a liquor license, of-age students will be able to purchase beer and wine. Coffee drinks will be available for those underage. When there are major events on campus on Saturdays (football games, for example), Skyline events will commence following those events.

Given the number of students who drink off campus, it is critical to do whatever it takes to assist those who have been drinking to not get behind the wheel. As we have learned, the least drunk driver doesn't make for a sober driver. In the ACHA survey, administered by Dr. Reams, over half of our students who drink off campus always have a designated driver. Another third usually do. Stunningly, 10% only sometimes or rarely use a designated driver. Students are sometimes fearless about consequences. (Of the 60% of students having sex, nearly 20% aren't using condoms.)

Designated drivers are free, accessible, and effective. But since they are not always used, an alternative is calling a cab. In fact, Trinity had a voucher program with Yellow Cab, but it was clunky to administer. The Yellow Cab representatives approached the University last year with a debit card program idea that looks like it can be effective. The men of Chi Delta Tau have agreed to promote and administer this program to other student groups and individual students this fall. That fraternity will yield far more influence with students than administrators might. The advantage for students is that they don't have to choose between What-a-Burger money and a cab ride.

In an a climate where binge drinking on college campuses runs rampant, the B-Low Optimal program, Skyline Saturdays, and Tiger Taxi program are all new and exciting approaches toward encouraging a safer and more enjoyable experience for Trinity students.

Editors Note: Thanks to Dr. Richard Reams, Associate Director of Counseling Services, for his research and his efforts to promote safer alcohol-use. Review of survey summaries are available upon request.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Remembering Ernest

Editor's Note: For the first time, I asked someone else to write a post for me. As you will read, Dr. Nanette LeCoat graciously agreed to write this tribute following her trip to Ghana.

We are known to others by the people who have loved us.  I can think of no better tribute to the memory of Ernest Ofusu Amoh (Koby as he was known to his family) than the many wonderful, open-hearted people who loved him.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Ernest. (I would have had that opportunity come this fall: his name is the first to appear on the list of students enrolled in my Intermediate French class.) Instead, I have begun to know Ernest’s family who live in Takoradi, Ghana.  I share deeply with them the regret that we could not have been brought together during Ernest’s lifetime, nonetheless, the pain of his loss brings with it an unexpected and touching intimacy.   

At a time of great personal pain, Ernest’s father and mother, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins welcomed me into their family with unforgettable kindness and warmth. Ernest passed away on June 6th in a drowning accident in New Hampshire, where his brother, Justice, was graduating from Dartmouth College.  His memorial service was held on July 5 at the Bethel Methodist Church. As Director of International Programs I had the great privilege of representing Trinity University.  

It was a profoundly moving occasion.

Bethel Methodist Church is a very large but simple edifice situated on the busy road leading to the Takoradi airport.  The Amoh family filled the first pews.  Presiding at the service were no less than nine officiating ministers including  the Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Edward Ofori Donkor. Children from Ernest’s elementary school and his friends from his prestigious preparatory school were there.  Music from the Church Choir, and a Singing Band filled the church to the rafters.  So numerous were the admirers of Ernest’s family, that many attendees were obliged to stand for the service in the courtyards surrounding the church.

What struck me was the depth of religious feeling of the congregation and the admiration and gratitude members of the community so obviously felt for Ernest’s family.  Justice Amoh Senior’s  construction company is vital to the growth of Takoradi’s infrastructure and his family’s personal generosity is felt all over the community.  Like his father, Ernest, had the ambition of being an engineer.  Like his mother, Francisca, he took education seriously and profited from her unwavering encouragement of his success. But beyond his ambition and accomplishments, Ernest had personal qualities that endeared him to all who knew him and testified to the deeply spiritual values of his family.  His optimism, gentleness and faith—all so visible in the radiant smile--are vividly remembered by his friends in Takoradi and in San Antonio.

In September, Ernest’s mother accompanied by her father-in-law, Bishop Botwey, will be coming to visit San Antonio. A memorial service is planned in the Parker Chapel at 1 pm on Sunday, September 8.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Dog Days Are Over

Inspector Kurt Evans. And Jurgens
Katharine Martin and Jurgens together again
Our seniors weren't the only ones to graduate in May. Our campus puppy, The Dog Jurgens, graduated on May 24, 2013 at Lackland Air Force Base. Jurgens, and her handler, Kurt Evans, received their credentials and have already taken on their assignment at Houston's Hobby Airport.

Trinity University was recognized for its role in fostering and training Jurgens in 2012. Scott Thomas, who runs the breeding program at Lackland presented the University plaques that will be displayed in the Coates Center starting this fall. The students and staff members who spent so many hours with Jurgens must have done something right - or at least did no harm. Kurt and Jurgens received Top Dog honors in their class.

Additionally, I was able to present a commemorative Paul Jurgens bracelet to Inspector Evans on behalf of John and Alice Sheldon. Kurt is an exceptional young man. He was extremely moved by the Sheldon gift and takes to heart the importance of his role and the connection of this program to the events of 9/11. Most of all, he loves Jurgens. In an email to us, before we met, he described her this way: "She is funny, sweet, stubborn, VERY SMART and just plain loveable. She is still very much all energy and high spirits and usually looking for a quick snack to score off the ground." We knew then they she was with the right guy! He gets her.

Kurt attended Hardin-Simmons and actually played against the Trinity football team in the 1999 and 2000 playoffs. Three years ago he decided, after much research, to pursue his goal of being a TSA inspector and canine handler. He had to move his wonderful family to Houston for his assignment, in fact. Kurt told us that when he was doing some internet research this year he had actually come across the articles about Jurgens. He was thrilled when it was announced that they would be paired together.

The Tuttle family, and Katharine Martin, in Campus Publications -- and Jurgens co-sponsor last year -- were in attendance at graduation. Jurgens continues to be a prima donna. Blessed with exceptional skills, she continues to be single-minded in performing her duties, a bit pushy and difficult to manage,and, as Kurt pointed out, very lovable. It was spectacular to see her again, for all of us. It is gratifying to see this campus program come to such a positive conclusion.

I continue to be amazed at the connections this little dog has created, including between students and staff, the Sheldon's, and now the Evans family. She is a destiny dog.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Extra innings

Baseball seniors 2013

Noelle 2001
Eleven members of the Trinity University baseball team were honored in a special commencement ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2013. The seniors missed their regular commencement on Saturday, as they were participating in the NCAA D-III playoffs in Austin. The team had a winning season and it was a pleasure to participate in the extra ceremony. (Editor's note: I get great pictures as part of the platform party!)

The tradition of special ceremonies at Trinity dates back, in my era anyways, to Noelle Stockman (now MacGregor), who was ASR VP and a softball player. She is a regular reader of my blog too! She insisted that President Brazil do her honors under similar circumstances. That was in his office in the old Northrup. Nice tradition Noellie.

President Ahlburg was on top of his game at this year's ceremony, comparing himself to an umpire by calling the graduates "safe" after he conferred their degrees. He also suggested that the audience sing "Take me out to the Ballgame" rather than the Alma Mater. Not bad for an Aussie who loves Cricket.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fifth Annual: The Year in Review - 2012-2013

As you will note in the section below ("Big Hurts"), I experienced some losses in a variety of dimensions this year. I playfully described the exodus of my friends and colleagues Raphael Moffett, Ben Newhouse, and Rick Roberts in a post in September (Breaking Bad). In that post, I included an application for new friends. Alumni Sponsor Jim Boelens, my son Nathan, and an anonymous person responded. So did the four students above. We had lunch in the Skyline Room last week. Turns out, they are all friends with one another and I am the newest cast member. So here's to my new BFFs Erin, Emily, Tyler, and Ben. And here is to another memorable year of highs and lows at Trinity University.

More regular posting to resume in the fall.

Top Stories

1. Bollard-gate
This story, about a closed road on inner campus, had legs from beginning to end this year. As with most things in relationships, it wasn't JUST about bollards and access. It was about students wanting to be heard and administrators looking long-term. And it was a flash point. (Guess who won.) A positive outcome was that new VP Gary Logan has added students to the master planning advisory committee for the future.

2. Fraternities and Sororities
Besides bollards, the reinstatement plans and ultimate return of four organizations also consumed a great deal of Trinitonian coverage. So did the blueprint for the future.

3. HOPE Hall
Students organized academic, service, and leadership components into a residential community to learn and take action on the issue of homelessness. This may be a perfect formula for future living-learning communities, as encouraged in the new strategic plan.

4. Tacos
ARAMARK surprised students with the announcement that local favorite - and nationally recognized - Taco Taco will have a satellite operation in the Coates Commons next year. Our dining program is evolving!

5. Construction
That it is still happening, and is winding down, is a story arc that may never be nudged from the top ten. CSI nears completion. Other projects are on the table (see "On the Horizon.")

6. Jurgens
Yes, a personal favorite of mine. The Dog Jurgens had a great run here, including a heart-warming 9/11 program with family members of hero Paul Jurgens. And she is set to graduate from bomb-sniffing school in late May before heading to her first assignment, one of the airports in Houston. Sniff.

7. APO
This was a tough one, as members of the organization engaged in personal and organizational issues fraught with blurry lines, connections, and emotionally charged - and messy - attempts at resolution. With lessons this learned we can all look forward to seeing this important group rebounding next year.

8. Staffing
Two new VPs (Gary Logan and Lisa Baronio), departures of CCI stalwarts (Moffett and Newhouse), and the promotion and hiring of new staff (Thompson, Polivka, Bovio) had far-reaching direct and indirect impacts on student life.

9. Strategic Plan, Curriculum, Activity Bock
A lot of talk, but not a lot of resolution. Yet what can matter more? So these things have to make the top ten. These should all be higher in the future as talk turns to action. Often complicated, occasionally contentious, frequently controversial, and laced with compromise, these issues will set our direction for a long, long time. No sleight at number nine, but watch for a big jump in the next two years.

10. Skyline Room
Renovation of this space has moved the dining program refurbishment closer to completion. Tacos by August, CSI menu by January, more Commons changes are on the horizon.


All Things Trinity (a fun tournament style game of Trinity favorites)
Sherlock Gnome (a broken mascot breaks and is replaced, and cleverly renamed)
ASR (amazing how money brings power - and nice job to the officers and senators!)
Trinitonian and TigerTV (outstanding student communication laboratories and products)
TU license plates (haven't seen many yet, but feels like we are in the big leagues)
Bell Center Bandit nabbed (locker room thief gets chased down by TUPD)

Tattoo column (big fuss about so little - nice save Trinitonian. I thought the President was being whimsical, topical, and trying to discuss a student-oriented topic. Last time he will do that...)
Put Yo Hands Up (lots of money for a punch-line Mr. Hype-man)
On-line gossip sites (rude, anonymous, crass, short shelf lives...)
Men's conference (the miss is that it didn't happen this year - future in question)
Drug Dog (no Jurgens, this dog, brought into the dorms, made an impression none-the-less)
Lectures (low attendance means soul-searching, incentives, and accountability for the future)
Skyline (liked by many, disparaged by more, great potential...)
Monte Vista (concerns may have some merit - or not, but we are SO lovable)
Tower bells (with all of our high-tech, people missed the bells when they were shut down for repair)

Under the Radar
Career Services changes (new direction and additional staff in the future)
Drugs and laws (students hearing conflicting messages with medicinal exceptions and legalization)
Presidential Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (over 100,000 hours... it has become common place now. POP goes the bubble.)
Playboy condoms (could we be any tackier? Maybe HH can sell them in person at the POD in his jammies and robe.)
Trinity Food Project (HOPE Hall move over - the Trinity Food Project is coming)
Tower lights (yes, I control the special occasion lights with my iPhone)
Leadership awards (a favorite event, personally, reinforcing how much better than me our students really are)

Big Hurts
Sheena (loss, tragedy, heartbreak, impact, and grief)
Chris (alumnus, friend)
Legends (Trinity was built by many great people)
Jurgens (tough to say farewell)
Nutmeg (our 12-year-old golden, lived her last year in the shadow of puppy Jurgens. We lost her April 2 and miss her dearly.)
My friends (see photo, above)
Brian Hirsch (Career Services director says farewell next week - thanks for everything Brian!)

On the Horizon
Web page (look for a new Web and marketing presence)
Fire lane and inner campus walkway near Magic Stones (it will be so cool)
CSI (opens in full in January. Had a tour and it is spectacular!)
Chi Delta Tau teams up with Yellow Cab on new safe-ride debit card program
Coates (look for a more student-friendly lobby in 2014)
Lectures (swipe, get points, get something... ideas?)
Winn Witt (summer renovation means all first year and sophomore college buildings will be recently renovated)

Year 4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 1

Bonus tracks
In case you missed it, here are some other topics I got to write about this year. Trinity is rich with material:
Inspiring student
Cool Coach
Trinity in the movies
On Belonging
On Falling