Being the president of a small college affords me opportunities many of my colleagues at larger schools just don't have. The first week of school, for example, the entire first-year class comes to our home to consume massive quantities of dessert. It's as if we are trying to have them all gain the freshmen 15 before classes even begin! Getting to know our students on a personal level is one of my favorite parts of the job.
I get asked all the time by individual students I have come to know to attend some event that is special to them. This weekend I was hoping to skip town before the mad end-of-the-school-year rush descends. Then another one of those requests came in -- a special event for a special student. I guess town can be skipped some other time; I don't see how I can miss this one.
When our students march across the stage in three weeks to graduate, there will be a personal story for many of them that will come to my mind as I shake each one of their hands. This year, my older daughter will be one of those as she leaves Oglethorpe with her master's degree. I promise you there will be a flood of stories that will flash before me when I embrace her.
Oglethorpe University is a special community and that gets reinforced for me almost every day. Last week, I heard that Edwin Moses, the famed Olympic track star, was coming to campus to film a feature for Sky Sports in advance of the 2012 London Olympic games. Who knew Moses lived right next to our campus? It was his recommendation to the producers to use our campus, designed a century ago to replicate one of the Oxford Colleges, as a backdrop for the piece.
Our NCAA Division III track and field teams were invited to the "event." Pretty cool. One of the things I always tell prospective students about their life at Oglethorpe is how quickly they will engage in all-things Oglethorpe. At many schools, you'll wait until you are an upperclass student to become the editor of the school newspaper or a star on stage or a contributing member of one of our 16 inter-collegiate athletic teams (we are proud members of a new athletic conference, the Southern Athletic Association). At my school, if you wait until the second semester of your first-year to engage, it will seem out of place. Despite that, I was a bit surprised to hear the other day that one of our first-year women track student-athletes, Katy Galli, already owned more than a half-dozen school records just months after arriving on campus. Even I have to admit that just doesn't happen here.
Katy's primary event is the 400 meter hurdles. If you are old enough you might recall that was the event in which Moses set a world record in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. After the filming was done, Moses and Galli met and from what I hear, he stayed around for almost an hour working with Katy. What a gracious man. Something tells me another record is about to fall. Only at Oglethorpe.