Aug 19th, 2003 @ 9:00 am | Author: Ellen-Earle Chaffee, President
The university is back on line. Faculty are on duty, staff members are ready, and students are starting to arrive. Football and volleyball are getting underway. Freshmen report for orientation on Friday. Another school year is beginning.

As with so many things, it is the same and different. Here are some of the differences this year.

A group of us will start the year by taking a caravan to the south. We will enjoy the national scenic byway, stop for treats and a community update in Fort Ransom, and have a delicious and informative lunch with community leaders in Oakes. Special thanks to Shirley Hartley and Paul Lindell for hosting us!

The trip is part of our plan to become familiar with communities in our region so that we can be more supportive of their efforts and goals. During the academic year, some of us will make periodic coffee stops in other communities as well. We would welcome invitations from locals who can tell us when and where folks gather in your town.

Leaders from IBM and Sun Microsystems will be on campus this week to celebrate our new technology developments. Not only are all faculty and students receiving brand new laptops again this year (faster, more multi-media capable), but we are also switching to Sun hardware and software for a variety of applications. Sun provided us with a major grant to assist in the conversion, and IBM won the competitive bidding process for laptops with a very attractive package.

The really "fun" part of that is having to learn a great many new skills. I spent much of the weekend switching email and calendar data, making my share of mistakes in the process. But it is also like forced spring cleaning, which is good in my case.

My calendar includes a very exciting new commitment. Just last week, I agreed to teach a section of freshman composition. I have not taught for many years, and it has been even longer since I taught English. Unlike our faculty, I am not a born teacher " but I am motivated to do well! The other composition faculty members are taking me under their wing, and I am really looking forward to the experience. I will have a much better understanding of faculty life and a stronger relationship with a number of students.

Several people have told me they want to lurk in the hallway to see the faces of my class members when they realize who the teacher is. I hope they don’t all drop the class! It amazes me how much the "president" title can do, pro or con.

Finally, we are having a big marketplace event on Friday evening to help students know what campus and community opportunities are available to them, including shopping, work, church, and volunteer options. The event will help students shop locally and help them get involved. Feel free to stroll over to the front lawn about 5:00! You might see something interesting to you, too.