Today concludes Culver-Stockton's fall term of classes, the end of lectures, seminars, and field trips. And, as if to make a larger point, a snowstorm gives the semester its necessary punctuation; so, a semicolon finds its place between moments on the Hill parsing this semester more a verse than a paragraph. Perhaps it is this observer's age that makes him more sensitive to time, especially living on campus in the midst of young people, but I will swear to our colleagues teaching metaphysics or the mass-times-velocity kind of physics, that a college semester proves some kind of independent, fourth-dimensional phenomenon that is a challenge to name. A lawyer's term of art, "collapsible transaction," comes to mind as explanation, though technically those words define criminal results such as conflict of interest or self-dealing. Rather, I am going with the "sounds right" expropriation of words, even if it means something else entirely to the specialists in corporate compliance.
The small and great transactions between the minds of professor and student, some remembered all of life, seem to collapse into one giant instant of time. That is how most of us apprehend this special mood, this version of "collapsible transaction." And this apprehension occurs right before the college's perpetual stock of blue books is taken down again for the writers of those lined exam pages to summarize, even hastily, their competence about important issues of life—the cause of war, the meaning of fair trade, or the nature of DNA. Because of a college's intrinsic pace, the thousands of exchanges along the paths of campus and the constant chatter inside the portals of learning, the days of a term merge into one blurry impression. Every day, we watch from a short distance what happens at the intersection of human dreams and the experiments in living, a sad disappointment often occurring within moments of the "just–nailed–it" performance.
A campus is, of course, a living paradox, the contrast between a gradual, beautiful unfolding and this sudden, compacting of effort. In the twinkling of an eye, as the wise words of an ancient correspondent once put it, the semester is simply over.
It was only yesterday, or maybe just last week, that I was shaking hands with each of our new students as they entered the college on a scalding hot day against the music of bagpipes and snare drums. Now, suddenly, the snows fall and it is two o'clock in the morning and students are night-sledding behind our campus house. Yes, they wake me up. But this time it brings a smile and makes me happy. The semester on The Hill has been a good one and, for many of us, one of the best ever. Let me report on a few reasons why.
Master Planning the Campus of the Future
Major Curriculum Reform Approved by Faculty
Next, the traditional combination of required and elective courses will be followed by a three-week intensive session in which all students will focus on only one course; during that period they and their professors will concentrate on an experiential opportunity, such as an internship, field project, or travel inside or outside the United States. No other college in our region is currently offering this kind of innovative and flexible program, which we believe will best prepare students with the dual advantage of hands-on experience and liberal arts learning.
Third, the faculty also agreed to create streamlined general education requirements, making the core components less complex and easier to understand. The fourth change will allow students, beginning in Fall 2009, to work with an advisor to create an interdisciplinary major that may better suit their personal interests. Finally, the faculty agreed that by Fall 2010 it would revisit our foreign language offerings as an additional means of preparing graduates for a global economy.
Faculty and Staff Continue to Set the Standard of Annual Support
Culver-Stockton Students Recognized for Success
Members of IMA (accounting majors), SIFE (marketing majors), and other students from the Business Division have been on the road again this fall to compete in case study competitions. They continue to earn national awards and recognition. And, most importantly, recent graduates who have participated in these organizations have had terrific job offers.
One of our freshman students, Alexis Westerhausen, has been named a Higher Education Fellow by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, one among six undergraduates in the nation.
SGA president Nicole Gravedoni had her first scientific paper published in November by the United States Geological Survey. Through a summer internship, she worked with a research team investigating the effects of lead-mine tailings on seed germination.
Although our athletic teams faced a tough fall season, individually we had a few who were selected as players of the week in our conference and several in volleyball, football, and soccer who were subsequently named to all-conference teams at the end of the season. Our men's soccer team defeated the defending national champions, Graceland, on our home field, in one of the program's greatest victories since its inception. Our football Wildcats also defeated Evangel for the first time in 20 years. Senior wide receiver, Preston Nicholson, was second in the nation in yards gained. We are anticipating that he will soon be named a football All-American, one of only six from Culver-Stockton over the past 40 years.
Our choral ensembles under the direction of Professor Kevin Baker will perform the annual Christmas Concert this Sunday evening at 7 o'clock. Every year, this tradition is one of the sublime hours of the passing semester. And it will be no different when the auditorium fills again with students and faculty in the audience as the house lights dim.
Finally, I mention an e-mail correspondent who keeps in touch with me from afar. From the class of 1979, Doug Maddox, a civilian executive assisting the U.S. Army in Iraq, wrote me recently from his quarters at the Baghdad Airport: "I have so many wonderful memories of Culver-Stockton. My view of the college experience at Culver is not only about what was in the books, but also learning about life. I believe I learned how to become a better person ... to continue to learn as I grow older. I was treated as a human being in college and my professors knew me by name and were concerned for my well being ... I will cheer on the Wildcats as I look up their scores every week in the Stars and Stripes newspaper."
Merry Christmas, Doug. Your friends on the Hill remain concerned for your well being. And Merry Christmas, friends. Your college is beautiful right now.
P.S. I look forward to being connected with each of you. I invite you to contact me directly at email@example.com to share your thoughts about this newsletter or about Culver-Stockton College in general.