The Baker Orange

Outgoing president shares final thoughts

Story by Pat Long

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When Editor Sara Bell asked me to write my “senior send-off” column I was a little overwhelmed. How do I encapsulate what have been some of the very best eight years of my life in just 500 short words?

As you are reading this, the Baker Board of Trustees is convened on campus to discuss the future of our great university. We will talk about overhead construction costs of the new Student Union, review the finances and budget for fiscal year ’14-’15, and report on the progress of our strategic goals. But the most important part of the day — and my favorite part — will be the time we take to hear presentations from students like you who are doing amazing things.

If I could leave the student body with anything, I want you to know how important you are to the first university in Kansas; in fact, you mean everything to us. On July 1, when my husband, Dennis, and I make the three-hour drive to our house outside Bolivar, Mo., the conference calls and key performance indicators will be a distant memory. Thoughts of Department of Education mandates and site visits from the Higher Learning Commission will be a thing of the past.

Instead, we will relish the memories of you. We will think of your smiling faces when you saw the new dining hall for the first time. Or when we – and I mean we – stormed the field after Ottawa’s field goal attempt went wide. I’m still smiling from that one.

Celebrating your academic achievements will forever make me beam with pride. Every year the BU Scholar’s Symposium demonstrates the remarkable learning that happens in Baldwin City as a result of your talent combined with our outstanding faculty. The national recognition achieved by a school our size is awe-inspiring.

The Collins House is going to be a difficult place to leave. Dennis and I have literally watched your Baker careers unfold from our living room. The reception area has played host to so many of my most cherished memories, from scholarship dinners to commencement brunches to donor gatherings. Living in that beautiful brick house on Eighth Street blessed me with the gift of proximity; I always felt close to you students. Close enough to hear the echo of your Greek Serenades but thankfully far enough away to sleep through late night parties or purported pilgrimages to the Salt Mine.<br/>

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your president. You are the reason that I do what I do. And when I think back to my time serving as the leader of the one great university in Kansas, it is your praises I will sing.

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