Monday, July 24, 2006

Trip Down Aggie Memory Lane

For someone who is pretty nostalgic, I have a pretty bad memory. I am amazed at the things that Emily (my wife) remembers that I have forgotten.

On Friday we spent the afternoon on the New Mexico State University campus in Las Cruces. It was great fun visiting old professors and walking around campus without the kids (thank you mom and dad).

We walked in the front door of Milton Hall -- as we must have done hundreds of times in the past. The lobby is torn up for construction. We took a look around, and Emily said, "I ate a lot of peanut M&Ms sitting here waiting for you to get out of class." I'd have never remembered. So many memories came rushing back that afternoon.

We met with Dr. Frank Thayer, now head of the journalism department. It was fun to learn what was happening with my alma mater. Dr. Thayer taught me a lot back in the day, and it felt a little weird sitting there as another professor. Not bad in any way. Just different.

After a quick drive around campus, we then headed off to Breland Hall to see our former French professor, Dr. Claude Fouillade. He is one of my favorite people, and he was a wonderful mentor as an undergraduate. I had endless questions about "professordom" back in the day, and he never tired of answering them.

We also took a quick tour through Corbett Center, the student union. Many days it felt as if I lived in Corbett, as the student newspaper was my home for two years. We looked at the old eating haunts (Burger King is gone, Chick-fil-A is added ... drat!).

The sun was pounding down. The Organ Mountains were in the distance, and it really did feel like yesteryear. It is a rare day when Emily and I get to spend an afternoon alone together, and this was a treat. It's always good to hang out with your best friend.

Saturday morning was spent having breakfast with "Dr. Mac," also known as Dr. J. Sean McCleneghan, and his lovely wife. No single person had more of an impact on my early career, and I am always glad to visit with him. Dr. Mac is as good as it gets, and I am lucky that my academic path intersected with him. It was great to hear his views of life, the department, and the trials and tribulations of assistant professordom. If I have half of the influence on my students as Dr. Mac has had on his, this I will be an unqualified success.

As I sat here typing, I recovered one of those distant memories. It made me chuckle. When I decided to apply for graduate school at K-State in 1999, these were the three professors whom I sought out to write letters of recommendation. All of these years later, it is still their advice that I seek out. It's funny how things work out.

I am excited that we are back within a day's drive. There are DOZENS of people I wanted to see but could not. Next time. Perhaps in the early fall when it's not quite so hot.


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