Saturday, July 14, 2007

Many happy returns

Perhaps my world is beginning to right itself on its axis. We paid the gardener a small fortune to plant some new echinacea, rudbeckia, lilies and a butterfly bush (not to mention the mulch and hocus pocus act on the remaining weeds). It's not the same, but I don't cry when I come home, so it's something.

Yesterday I learned that E. Gordon Gee is returning to Ohio State University as president. Amidst all the chatter that this is unprecedented, which is likely is, there seems to be an undercurrent of genuine joy that this man is back. Having spent several years under his watch, I couldn't be more delighted. Dr. Gee stunned me once when, some months after attending an English department benefit where I was the recipient of several awards for creative writing, he saw me in a mall, grinned, and called me by name, saying he'd liked my poem. Apparently he did that a lot--never forgetting a face or a name.

I tried explaining this to J last night at dinner (who went to a city university) and he seemed bemused and baffled. Why would anyone care about their university, he asked, when it's just a business arrangement? You pay your money, you get your degree, you're done.

Obviously, he never encountered anyone like Gordon Gee. He's just one of many who made me feel vital and valuable during my academic years at Ohio State (unfortunately, the 13 years I spent there on staff were some of the worst 1,622,400 minutes of my life and I still have the stinkeye for Robbin, Marijo, Peggy, Maran and Leslie, not to mention dozens of others who I've exorcised from my bitter brain).

Gee is one of the good things, and his stage is now set for greatness. The next generation of Buckeyes is in for something very special.

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