Jim Amidon — I sat in my Kane House office last Friday watching out my window as students at the Beta House next door packed up their cars for semester break. For a few minutes, I drifted back 20 years to remember my own experiences; back then, I couldn’t wait to pack up and head home for break.
Now, as I watch the students drive away from campus, I secretly wish they weren’t in such a hurry to leave. With classes over, this week would be the ideal time to have warm, free-flowing conversations with students about their dreams, their goals, and their experiences at Wabash.
Fortunately, I had a few of those talks with a couple of students before they dashed off. Listening to the students — getting to know them as something other than biology majors or football players — reminds all of us at Wabash why we do what we do.
With the 2006 fall semester officially in the books, I’ve been thinking about how quickly the last four months have sped by. And what a great fall season we had.
Here are a few of the highlights that stand out in my mind:
Welcoming a new president is always a lot of fun. As I’ve written before, the opportunity to teach President White and his wife, Chris, the ways of Wabash, has been a wonderful experience for all of us.
The way in which the Whites have embraced Wabash and Crawfordsville, though, has certainly been a highlight. Sometimes I wonder if our students realize how fortunate they are to have such direct access to their president. And what makes Pat special is that he always makes time for thoughtful, meaningful conversations with every student he encounters.
On top of that, I can’t think of an event — sports, lectures, concerts, plays — when the Whites weren’t in attendance, supporting the students and faculty of the College. It certainly didn’t take them long to become entrenched in our community.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Dean Gary Phillips, CFO Larry Griffith, Librarian John Lamborn, and all the faculty and staff who joined the College this fall. All brought unique talents and gifts to Wabash, but more importantly they came to us with different perspectives and experiences, which have enriched this place immensely.
Other moments stand out, too.
Wabash dedicated a $5 million fraternity house, Psi Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. Several hundred Phi Gam alumni came back to campus for the ribbon cutting and dedication dinner.
The football team won a thrilling Monon Bell game in front of a record crowd of 11,600 and a national, high definition television audience.
Many professors continued their excellent teaching, of course, but professors Peter Bankart, Stephen Webb, Stephen Morillo, and James Fisher also published books that reflect their personal academic interests.
Wabash hosted a wide range of visiting artists and scholars, and we were particularly honored to welcome Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North for thought-provoking talk on why worldwide economic reform is so hard to achieve.
And the semester came to a close with wonderful news for three members of the Wabash faculty. Physics Professor Jim Brown, Psychology Professor Bobby Horton, and German Professor Greg Redding all received tenure at Wabash, which is without a doubt the most significant milestone in their academic careers. Receiving tenure is an acknowledgement first and foremost that each professor is an excellent teacher. On top of that, all three are exceptional scholars and are involved in every aspect of the lives of their students.
During this holiday season, it’s important, too, to point out how fortunate all of us at Wabash are to live and work in such a solid, caring community. Having studied other colleges a fair amount over the years, I know how rare good town-gown relations are, and how truly blessed we are at Wabash.