As retirement nears, I am gathering not only the personal effects from my office but far more importantly the intangible gifts from 36 years spent in the College of Liberal Arts.
One of those gifts came the weekend following our 2015 fall commencement ceremony, when I unexpectedly became overwhelmed by the question, “Who will I be when I no longer am the dean or the professor or the advisor?” I shared that uncertainty with a young alumnus whose response was a deeply comforting liberal arts perspective: “You will be a writer and a student of new things.”
Also included among the many intangible gifts I have received were the times I was spellbound by spoken words while listening to campus visitors like Nikki Giovanni and Desmond Tutu; campus leaders like Tony Frank and Blanche Hughes; beloved professors like John Straayer, Pattie Cowell, Bill Griswold, Eric Aoki, and Lori Peek; and so many students who shared their personal stories.
Our performing arts have been a source of much joy but never more spellbinding than when the CSU Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s “First Symphony” a few years ago. Similarly, never have I felt more school spirit than when our Marching Band takes the field for their pre-game performance, highlighted by the trombone section’s crowd-pleasing “No. 5.”
It has been a great gift to share life-and history-altering events with fellow Rams. I watched the fall of the Berlin Wall on a 12-inch black-and-white television in Thermopolis, Wyoming, with the CSU debate team and shared the innocence-shattering events of 9/11 with students huddled in classrooms throughout the Clark building, unable to take our eyes from the hypnotically repetitious television footage. I was captivated by the Art and Art History Department’s world famous biennial international poster exhibition, which allowed me to view changes around the world through the lens of those wonderfully artistic yet subtly rhetorical posters.
And, every one of you who spent time in my office, took one of my courses, watched a football or basketball game with me, chatted at a CSU event, or opened a door for an old lady with a cane–you have given me the gift of yourself.
Starting in July, you will find me at the Alumni Association where I will be occupied as a writer and student of new things, among other assignments. I hope you will stop by for a chat when you are in Fort Collins; that would be a very special gift, indeed.