Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I wonder if James Luna and Annie Dillard have ever met. I spent some time yesterday enjoying Luna's "Talking Stones" exhibit in the UIS art gallery. Speakers hung over each stone, with one making a haunting sound, another an occasional nature sound, and already I've forgotten the others. I sat and enjoyed it for awhile. My mind stretched: Why in the world would an artist think these stones talk? It also reminded me of one of my favorite essays, "Teaching a Stone to Talk" by Annie Dillard. She describes a man whose life mission is to care for a stone and teach it to talk. Two artists in different parts of the world with the same idea. Maybe it's not so crazy. If we can just imagine it, as artists can.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
There is a new bench just outside the PAC. A scholar tree, too -- dedicated yesterday to Lee Frost-Kumpf, a professor who died in 2003. One day Lee and I were chatting near the coffee shop on the second floor of the PAC. "Ed, I need some help. My students can't write!" said Lee in an exasperated tone. Let's work together. He was teaching a graduate course in public policy. I agreed to do short segments on how to structure various writing assignments in Lee's class. I needed only 15 to 20 minutes per class. Lee was the substance guy; I was the writing coach. For me, that led to developing an entire course called Effective Public Affairs Writing, which I still teach as an elective in the MPA program. That was Lee, seeing a need, asking for help and putting together a strong collaboration. His energy, his intellect, his enthusiasm and his wit will inspire people at UIS and the students he taught for decades to come.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Local company congrats UIS - very nice!
Brahler Tire & Auto Center spread some community pride this weekend -- picking up on the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce's suggestion that local businesses use their message boards to spread the word: U.S. News and World Report ranks UIS fourth best in the Midwest! Thanks, Brahler's -- and others' signs that mabye I didn't see.
Another big step up
UIS is joining a great athletics conference -- the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The announcement was made Wednesday. This is not a ho-hum thing. We are upping the ante in everything we do. We're in a three-year process of joining NCAA Division II -- what a great thing for the central Illinois region, for UIS and for our students, and not just the student-athletes. What a delight that we were unanimously voted into the new conference.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Mushrooms and connections
I have never gone mushroom hunting but I've thought about it for 30 years because it just sounds like fun. So I got a big kick out of a very successful event this week. People from almost 20 central Illinois towns, plus a few from Michigan, were a little north of Springfield at our Emiquon research field station for a mushroom hunt. The event was quite successful, with 45 people turning out. It turns out that UIS has an expert on mushrooms on our faculty, and he was featured recently in the Illinois Times. For a university to connect with people on topics they care about is one of the greatest services we can provide, I think. Even if the topic is mushrooms.