When our students returned to campus last month they were greeted by
several significant changes in the college's facilities.
The largest change
is the complete renovation of Mossman Hall. This $1.7 million project
has provided beautiful and functional classroom and office space for
the college's programs in business, nursing, history, psychology, and
leadership. For several years we puzzled about how to show prospective
students the beautiful Beech Science Center without having them notice
Mossman Hall: out of date and partially moth-balled. Now it is all one,
a splendid showcase. Just as important, the chain reaction set in motion
by moving the business, history, and psychology programs to Mossman
provided us an opportunity to unify scattered faculty and move them
into upgraded offices in Christy Hall. Faculty in English, computer
science, and communications, are now in much better quarters in Christy.
During the summer
the college took the next step with information technology, installing
equipment that creates a wireless networking environment for our laptop-toting
students and faculty. All classrooms, labs, and common areas of the
campus now provide wireless access to the Internet. Trustee Robert Jewell
'77 and wife Barbara made a significant gift of equipment and services
and their company - Network Integration Services - worked with the college's
staff to complete the installation.
ago the college partnered with Grace United Methodist Church to establish
the Grace Little Builders Preschool. This summer the preschool moved
up College Street to a large and newly renovated space right next to
the Center for Teaching Excellence. The result is spectacular: The children,
some of whom are the children of college employees, have a wonderful
new center and playground, and the college's early childhood program
has a laboratory school right next door.
You can't beat
that! I encourage you to visit the college. I think you will be pleased
and impressed by the campus and its people. It's a wonderful place.
the past couple of months I have talked at length with a Pulitzer-prize
winning reporter from the New York Times. I've been sought out by ABC,
CBS, and NBC news teams. National Public Radio and the Associated Press
phoned me several times, as did the Wall Street Journal. Time and Newsweek
have called (as well as a reporter from Europe's largest news magazine),
and a CNN reporter left both her office and private phone number on
my home answering machine. And that's just a sampling of the media frenzy
that has surrounded Southwestern College this summer.
It's heady stuff for someone who has worked in public
relations long enough to know that this isn't real life. I spend most
of my time trying to get Southwestern College into the consciousness
of these very reporters who now are clamoring for my attention.
That's why my conversations with reporters this summer
have been tough.
Southwestern College is among the finest private colleges
in the Midwest. Its commitment to technology and to service learning
have been groundbreaking, and its academic reputation is superb. But
the reporters aren't interested in the wireless installation that has
made the college the first in the state to be Internet accessible from
anywhere on campus. It isn't considered news that our professional studies
and online programs are allowing students to earn college degrees long
after they had given up on this dream.
What these reporters are looking for is something we
can't give. Because a newsworthy Southwestern alumnus has requested
our help in protecting his privacy, and because our loyalty lies with
the alumnus (in the absence of legal reasons to go against this request),
I'm turning away the reporters with "I wish I could help you, but I'm
sure you understand our position."
Oddly enough, most have. One reporter even commiserated:
"My first summer as a reporter was the summer Richard Jewell was accused
of the Olympic bombing, and the media ruined his life before we found
out he was innocent," she told me.
So if reporters ask you about Southwestern College,
tell them about our wireless networking, and about integrative studies,
and about our performing arts, and about the leadership and discipleship
That's the real Southwestern College.