The hot afternoons and thunderstorms of summer are coming to an end, replaced by the cool-comfortable nights and turning leaves of early autumn. Pictured above is lightning from one of those summer storms that rolled through campus during summer evening classes last month captured on my phone camera (it took about 30 clicks). Luckily this lightning strike was well beyond the Library and the rest of campus.
Do you remember that fresh set of 164 crayons, the new pencil carrier, the lunch box featuring your favorite TV show, or the white sheets of paper in a pristine tablet? How about the smell of the printed handouts from a Ditto machine, the antiseptic scent of a recently scrubbed school hallway, or the feel of brand new school clothes? These were the unforgettable signs of the end of summer and return to school for my generation. While the scents, feel, and tools of the trade are slightly different today, students beginning or resuming their studies at Saint Vincent will be experiencing their own signs of the return to classes in the next few weeks. The entire campus is in a state of rapid preparation since the Steelers departed Sunday. Fall sports camps have begun, as has the prefect formation program. Many students have moved in early to beat the rush or participate in these and other activities.
This week is also a very busy week for faculty preparing for the start of classes. In addition to making those final adjustments to syllabi, faculty participate in a variety of special half-day or whole-day workshops during this week. These include a workshop for First-year Seminar faculty, another for the faculty who compose the Interdisciplinary Writing Steering Committee, a new faculty orientation day, a teaching with technology workshop, and a meeting for Chairperson and Deans. Finally on Friday, the entire faculty gathers for a beginning of the academic year meeting that includes an address by the Archabbot. Friday afternoon faculty will be out in the community with first-year students taking part in the orientation service projects.
One of my favorite activities of this week each year is the Annual Alumni Race on Saturday morning. This year is the eighth race. Hosted by the cross country teams and organized by men’s head coach and Economics professor Dr. Andy Herr and women’s head coach Mr. Tom Harbert, the race brings together current students, alumni, faculty and friends to run a 5K over our challenging course. The morning activities also include runs for kids of various age groups. While the overall spirit is one of friendly competition, the younger alums that ran for the teams recently relish the opportunity to test themselves against the current student-athletes on the teams. However, as the picture below featuring my seven-year old son Brent running with the team demonstrates, everyone has an opportunity to shine (he’s really being lapped but don’t tell him).
To all students of all ages, best wishes for a safe and happy return to school!
Dr. John Smetanka,
Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January, 2008.