Imagine a shadow cast upon a wall. Shining a light behind an object causes a three dimensional object to project a two dimensional image. I found myself thinking of this recently as I contemplated Ursuline College and how many changes it had undergone since I have been here. The school I found years ago was only a shadow of what the college is today.
Seventeen years ago, as I moved my office from my first job to Ursuline College, I immediately faced several elements of culture shock. While my office at my previous job had included both two desks and two doors, one leading to a common area and one leading to a hallway, my office in my new job also had two desks; one for me and one for the other full time person in my department. I was not used to sharing an office, but was so happy to have a full time job that I thought little about the inconvenience. Today, I am planning to move my (solo) office back to the Math and Science building after a year spent away, as I waited for repairs to be made near my former office.
Sister Dianna Stano, the president, was also new at her job, but it was clear from the beginning that she had big plans for Ursuline. Despite keeping the name “College”, it was quickly becoming more of a university than a college, with several graduate programs. She also quickly established a program that allows adult student to complete degrees begun elsewhere. Sometime in my first years, I stood with many of my colleagues on a field on campus for a photograph taken from high above as our presence outlined the border of what would become a new building on campus, a center for learning that also included a snack bar and a bookstore. In the years since then, the cafeteria has been moved to that building, making it a gathering center for students, housing classrooms, food and a bookstore that is hardly ever empty. In addition, the building continued on campus, with the construction of a modern suite-style dorm. A doctoral program was also added about that time.
After a few years at Ursuline, Sr. Dianna decided to bring sports to campus. The hope was to have young women actively participating in such campus events, bringing more of a residential campus feel to a campus that had once been focused on commuters. Beginning with a handful of sports, the number of sports grew each year as did the quality of the athletes. A few years ago, after a long application process, we were accepted into Division II of the N.C.A.A. And then, perhaps in response to a comment that Sister Dianna made about needing a new gym, a tornado ravaged our campus only a few weeks later. Our president claims that God took her at her word and gave her the gym she asked for upon being accepted. Perhaps, but that meant that many buildings on campus needed to be renovated, all while building another building that had been planned even before the tornado.
It has been almost two years now, and the previously planned building and the replacement for our gym are almost complete. It is hard to think of more changes that would be needed to continue to bring Ursuline College into the twenty-first century. With new buildings, campus wide wi-fi and championship sports teams, perhaps one could say that the work of our President, Sister Dianna Stanno, is almost complete.
Indeed, it is likely that she believes just that, since she is retiring next month, as much as any Sister retires (since she will be pursuing a different direction for her career.) As you plan your move away from campus, Sister Dianna, we wish you the best and thank you for all of the growth that you brought to Ursuline College in the last eighteen years. The campus that you inherited was only a shadow of the campus that we have today. Best of luck, and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
With my fellow Clevelanders, I thank the Cavalier Basketball team for an amazing season that ended just a bit too early.
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