It’s not the best of times or the worst of times at MU right now, but it is a time of intellectual highlights and challenges to the emotion as we go through budget adjustments and faculty/staff reductions.
It’s gut-wrenching. People’s lives are profoundly affected. Through it all, nearly everyone has acted in an orderly, respectful way, including our students who organized a bus trip to Harrisburg to talk with legislators and the MU choir under the direction of Peggy Dettwiler, who sang on the capitol rotunda steps to show the importance of music and the arts. Retrenchment and furloughs are happening at eight other PASSHE institutions but our students had the biggest showing in Harrisburg. The fact that they are lobbying speaks highly of both the students and the faculty members who obviously have taught them well the ways of advocating for change in a positive, respectful way.
On campus, many of our students are, well, models. The Chemistry Club members used their Fall Break Day to do a Forensics workshop for a 6th grade class in Corning.
The Mountaineers placed three runners in the top 10 to claim the PSAC Women’s Cross Country Championship at Kutztown University last weekend. And for the first time in school history, the team moved to the top of the NCAA Div. II Atlantic Region rankings.
Our Concert Wind Ensemble just made the Grammy Eligible List for two recordings in seven categories. Even if they go no further, this is a huge achievement for both director Adam Brennan and the Ensemble. The Ensemble will also hold its Reunion this weekend with a concert Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Steadman. It’s free and open to the public.
Our students hosted “A day in Camelot” for area children, taking them back to the days of knights and princesses.
On campus, students walk warily, Nerf guns ready. We’re in the midst of the annual Zombies Vs. Humans battle. And if you had been in the right place at the right time you would have seen a group of students chasing MU President Fran Hendricks who successfully escaped being shot and turned into a zombie.
Senior Meredith Shewell and I were talking about the uniqueness of MU recently. “Zombies Vs. Humans is played on campuses across the country,” she said. “But on what other campus do the president, the dean of student affairs, residence life staffers, and faculty also take time to participate?”
A few years ago I headed the town-gown Sesquicentennial Committee to celebrate the university’s and borough’s shared 1857 birth date. While researching our 150 year history I was humbled by the realization that MU has always had students, faculty and staff who care deeply for this place. They’ve been here through good and bad times. They’ve worked for its survival and to ensure that students were prepared to have careers and contribute to society.
This semester is not an easy one. It’s a time when both mind and heart are involved in a challenge much bigger than all of us, but one that will take all of us to meet it.
I have great respect for all the students, faculty and staff who have remained, under the hardest circumstances, civil, compassionate and respectful.
In the end, MU will survive — a little scarred, maybe — but stronger, I’m sure.