Our blog update is late this week thanks to a time warp — college reunion weekend. It was a minor milestone year for me since graduation from Susquehanna University in 19??. The beauty of aging is that those of us who were never good with numbers now have a built-in excuse for deep-sixing dates.
But Susquehanna University is an institution with proud traditions dating back generations. My own family now boasts four generations of SU alumni with our oldest son a 2010 grad. As a result, I have witnessed many of the recent campus changes firsthand that may represent bigger shifts to some of my classmates.
With the cost of higher education continuing to ascend, and recent graduates emerging to a very tough employment market, the competitive challenges faced by small private colleges have never been greater. Over the past two decades, many institutions have done impressive jobs of upgrading facilities, technologies, and academic departments. College has become such an American rite of passage from high school to young adulthood that parents and alumni have been willing to keep writing checks to fund whatever has been needed. However, it will be harder to keep these ongoing improvements going year after year given present economic realities.
For now, Susquehanna University continues to resemble the school and experience I had back in the 19 ____s. It is a little like Brigadoon, an idyllic campus in the small town of Selinsgrove, easy to miss (if you don’t get off the 11/15 bypass) between Harrisburg and Lewisburg, PA. Homecoming is still a big fall weekend of football, luncheons, and even a parade through town (no sign of the giant “Eat Me” cake float/Deathmobile from Animal House).
Perhaps the most welcome change is a far more diverse campus community. The numbers of minority students and minority faculty and administration members are definitely on the rise. Successful integration requires all parties to get out of their comfort zones to make new friends and find common and not-so-common ground. There was a lot of evidence that at least on a beautiful fall Saturday in central Pennsylvania, this is now old news. While no one is ever going to classify Selinsgrove as urban, the appearance of Snoop Dogg for a fall concert is one such sign of the times. And with that, I will let a band from my era (who never made it to campus except in countless albums sold) close out this week’s blog.