Google Analytics Tracking Code

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's in a name?

Fall Skyline Room Menu
It all started with Curb Your Enthusiasm. Specifically, there was an episode about a Hollywood deli that named its sandwiches after celebrities. Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and real-life George Costanza, wanted to swap his Larry David sandwich for the Ted Danson. (Hilarious clip contains crude language.)

So why not try named sandwiches here, in the Skyline Room? Our faculty members are our celebrities. So in the fall of 2015 we rolled out a new menu featuring some of our faculty superstars. Bob Blystone, Richard Burr, Bill Christ, Ruben Dupertuis, Coleen Grissom, Paul Myers, and Claudia Stokes all good-naturedly agreed to lend their names to a new spate of sandwiches. Some of the sandwiches were pre-existing. Some were new and customized. Dr. Blystone, for example, was very specific about the sandwich he wanted, which may be why it was almost dropped from the menu.

Indeed, the new chef looked at the menu over break and proposed dropping the Reuben Dupertuis and the Paul Myers from the spring menu. This was nearly a done deal until the serving crew at the Skyline implored me (they actually did), to not drop the Reuben or the Paul Myers. Sure enough, it turns out that the Grissom BLT and the Blystone had the fewest sales. The chef just wanted to rotate out for better variety.

The Bill Christ. Really
Interestingly, when I initially told Ruben Dupertuis that his Reuben was possibly being rotated out... he kind of took it personally. I assured him it was about sales (which turned out to be false). But even that didn't bolster his spirits. He is lobbying for the sandwiches to have tenure so they can never be dropped. He might have a point. I haven't broken it to Coleen Grissom that her BLT is low in sales, but she wouldn't complain. She whines that she wished she was the Claudia Stokes.

This was all a bit more than I bargained for. I was able to convince Dining Services to keep the whole menu, for now, in addition to rotating in the three new sandwiches selected by our new chef. Professors Blystone and Grissom have a reprieve. Paul Myers, indifferent to his sandwich, seems as safe as a Reuben, for at least the spring.

I polled the faculty for nominations to name the new sandwiches and received a robust response. Without further ado, I am pleased to announce the new sandwiches for Spring 2016:

The Brian Miceli Celifornia Chicken Club
Grilled chicken breast with bacon, avocado, lettuce, and tomato on ciabatta.
Brian received several nominations as the ultimate California dude. When I asked him if this would be okay he just said "cool."

The Carolyn True Caprese Sandwich
Fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil on a ciabatta roll with balsamic pesto dressing.
When I approached her about the Caprese, which does sound musical, she listed all of the ingredients. This is a True match.

The Camille Reyes Cuban Melt
Pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, cabbage, and mustard on a baguette.
Camille is of direct Cuban descent and was so excited to tell her family she is now an American sandwich.

The previously unnamed Pepperoni Flatbread will now be The Mike Wilkins.

Of course Peter Olofsson, Aaron Navarro, and many others provided some interesting suggestions. The response to the sandwiches has been fantastic. The students really love to order their favorite professors. The Skyline use has seen a 125% increase this fall. And the faculty involved have been incredibly great sports. The others who submitted names had fun nominating their friends and colleagues for this honor. This is truly Trinity at its best. And the sandwiches aren't half bad either. I invite readers to check out the expanded menu sometime in late January.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Stolen Endings

Down 31-0 at the half we had seen this story before. TCU trailed Oregon in the 2015 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, in part, because its star quarterback was suspended. To a handful of people across Texas and the nation, the circumstances were all too familiar. What might have been?

An intoxicated Trevone Boykin snuck out of his hotel after reportedly being tucked in for the night. Then, he found himself in a Riverwalk saloon where words were exchanged, punches were thrown, an arrest was made, and dreams were dashed.

It was December 14, 2002 when Trinity beat up St. John's to advance to the Division III national football championship to take on powerhouse Mount Union. The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl was a big deal. Airing on ESPN, it was Trinity's chance to shine on the national stage. Finally. The Tigers were led by Roy Hampton, the brazen gunslinger at quarterback, who led the nation in passing in D-III. If any team would beat this Mount Union team it could be a powerful offense like the Tigers.

Celebrating at a party following the semi-final win, Roy Hampton was passed out, reportedly after being tucked in for the night. Then, he found himself in a Riverwalk saloon where words were exchanged, punches were thrown, an arrest was made, and dreams were dashed.

Trinity went on to play its biggest game on the national stage alright. But it was painful. What might have been? The Tigers went on to lose 48-7. So much more was lost that day then a game, though we got another chance when Trinity again hit the news with its Mississippi Miracle in 2007. Perhaps it was our consolation prize.

Roy Hampton and three others were suspended from Trinity University in October 2001. I remember it well: I suspended them. It was an easy decision. The four students had gotten in a scuffle with a Trinity student at nearby Bombay Bicycle Club. They left and within an hour someone shot a gun at that other student's apartment near the Quarry. A public servant was an eyewitness and later identified the four students as present, both at the initial hearing and then the appeal hearing. The suspension was upheld.

The Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs before the suspension went into effect. It was the only time I cheered against our team. The suspension would likely have taken place sometime before the championship if we would get that far. I didn't want that on me.

As a young Dean, this was my first big test. The victim in the case and his family wanted immediate and harsh justice. Among the four students accused were the nephew of a professor and an African-American student, also on the football team. His family alleged racism on my part. The Trinity uncle naturally put his heart with his family. Attorneys of the students were interviewed on the local TV news. "The Dean of Students served as prosecutor, judge, and jury" groused one. A Web page, mostly trashing me and my investigation sprung up. Calls to my house threatening me to back off didn't help. There was more, and it was messy. It was the worst period of my professional life. The Faculty Senate would ultimately move to strip authority from the Dean of Students to make uni-lateral decisions in cases. As a result, the Dean is the least powerful person on campus, which is odd for someone who oversees student conduct.

How did I get there? I loved the Trinity Tiger football team. It was the golden era of our Division III team. You could do a TV show about it. Before Roy Hampton, the brash Mike Burton led the Tigers to the playoffs and won the D-III MVP award for his own talents. Even today it is on display in the Bell Center. He was good and he helped coach Roy, who came right after him. Sometimes the team made it hard to support them with their shenanigans. But they were dynamic, on and off the field, filled with colorful characters. I used to love to take my young sons to meet the players on the field after games and they were very kind and gracious to my boys. In one playoff run we set-up speakers on the Heidi lawn to listen to the game as a community. I was there that night to support the team, following a heart-breaking loss, when the buses rolled back to campus. We would have another day. So we thought.

But in 2001 I became the enemy. Later, amid legal wrangling that happened above my level, there was an admission that "mistakes were made" in exchange for being allowed back in the fall of 2002. The other students never came back, but Roy did. I supported that move for purely selfish reasons. I was off the hook for ruining Trinity football.

Then the incredible playoff run happened, and we finally were headed to the title game. I was ecstatic for the University. But it all came crashing down within days, when Roy's arrest was made public. Trinity was lauded for doing the right thing in suspending him. It was in part because of Roy's previous record. Maybe pundits felt good. Virtually no one else did. Coach Steve Mohr had reached his pinnacle only to have the opportunity ripped away. It was devastating.

According to Roy's teammate, and our current coach, Jerheme Urban, it haunted Roy. How could it not. Coach Urban says Roy never got over letting other people down. Imagine if there were social media then. Roy was wildly popular with his team and friends. He was the life of the party and had charisma. Roy passed away in 2013. There would be no redemption in his story and maybe that is why even Trinity skirted it in its announcement. But when Trevone Boykin repeated history, I couldn't do the same.

Years after all of this I would reach out to Roy over email to see how he was doing. I didn't feel sorry for him. I wasn't worried about him. I guess I just wondered about him. We had a nice, brief, cordial exchange. He was very gracious. You learn after awhile that people aren't defined by one act. They are not two-dimensional. We are all the sum of our parts. You appreciate the complexity of people - especially young people. I eventually made peace with the professors who became deeply involved in the shooting case. Time and conversation heal. Hopefully the players from those teams harbor no ill-will against me. But I understand if they do. We lived through an epic Greek tragedy.

The one positive outcome has been that Jerheme Urban was named head coach after Steve Mohr retired. Jerheme is a high-character man. He included Roy in his football camps in Victoria if only to have time to spend with his friend. He supported him when it would have been easy to write him off. The team is rolling again, under his leadership. He is using his own Trinity and NFL experience to shape young men. They make mistakes too. But he has their blind spot, as he did with Roy.

So this January, trailing by a bundle, TCU would follow suit until its now historic comeback, defeating the Oregon Ducks on ESPN in a dramatic double-overtime come from behind victory. They stole our ending. A similar epic comeback by the Tigers would have gone a long way: for Trinity, for Roy Hampton, for Coach Mohr and the team, and even for me.

When Trevone Boykin threw that punch another one landed. Those of us who remember 2002 took one to the gut, again. You know what? It still hurt.