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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.