This year, far more driven than nearly 20 years before, I confidently re-enrolled at SXU as a BSN student. I immediately thought: “My goodness, what has happened here?!” With the new facilities and technological amenities, there’s no doubt that an educational revolution has transformed the campus.
The changes are remarkable and beyond what I ever imagined in 1998. To start, the library underwent a remarkable 5-million-dollar renovation and transformed the old LRC into the amazing Robert and Rita Murphy Stump Library. Apple computers, study rooms, research databases and comfortable booths replaced the archaic card catalogs, Internet-free computers and outdated books. Also, they added The Haddad Conference Room and sliced the Bishop Quarter Room in half to make room for a scholar study area. The media lab, the Hub, CIDAT, Veteran Resource Center, School of Education, Student Lounge and Student Organization Center replaced empty areas throughout the Warde Academic Center.
The music department took over the old gymnasium and transformed it into a fantastic performance space. Outside the main building, The Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field replaced the old football/soccer field, and the dream of an athletic facility was realized in 1999 with the opening of The Shannon Center. Finally, art students found a new home in an off-campus gallery to create their masterpieces. An academic renaissance transformed the entire campus.
So, upon my return, when did everything finally hit? A few weeks ago I walked out of the Graham School of Management, and as I headed east on 103rd I noticed a very familiar, stylishly dressed man walking towards me. He wore a nice suit coat, dress pants and athletic shoes. As our paths crossed, he pleasantly smiled as if he recognized me and gave a slight nod. I immediately stopped walking as his identity hit me; it was Dr. John Gutowski. I felt like I was in a scene in Back to the Future.
Back in 1998, I attended a class instructed by Dr. Gutowski called “Sports in Society”. I remember him as a very passionate, engaging, and brilliant educator who loved to converse with students inside and outside his classes. He possessed an uncanny ability to pop up all over campus in order to chat with SXU students (I even saw him on the side lines of home soccer games). It’s awesome to see him still here.
Suddenly, just after my encounter with Dr. Gutowski, I began to spot many of my past SXU educators all throughout our campus. I noticed Dr. Joel Sternberg studying in the library, Dr. Nan Nan Lee lecturing in a classroom and I met up with my former basketball coach Tom O’Malley. I addition, I learned Professor Jayne Hileman still taught art and design and Monte Gerlach recently celebrated 40 years of photography mentoring. Dr. Kathleen Waller, a very enthusiastic educator who taught an amazing Christian ethics and feminist perspective of religion class, invited me to her office to catch up after nearly 20 years. As a matter of fact, Dr. Waller’s class was so persuasive and inspiring that she transformed me from a young man who adhered to patriarchy to a modern day feminist who wore a pink shirt on the last day of class. All professors were highly intelligent, captivating and inspiring. We truly have something special here at SXU.
In conclusion, with all the changes; I can feel a buzz in the air as I walk through the bustling crowds and watch the animations of our professors inside our classrooms all around wonderful campus. Although many physical changes have transformed SXU since 1998, two fundamental facts have never changed: we have fantastic, dedicated professors who truly care and a great student body; and this is what makes us great. Even after all that time, many of my past educators still teach at SXU. They’re absolutely devoted to our future. Together, with their passion to teach and our eagerness to learn, we create a fantastic institution for higher learning. That has never changed. It was true then and it’s true today.
It’s hard to imagine what SXU will look like in 18 years from now. Maybe the campus will double in size and we’ll build an aquatic center or maybe, just maybe, I’ll be instructing a class in the same room as I sat in as a student.
My advice to all students: get involved, don’t waste precious time and don’t let anyone ever, ever tell you that you can’t do something. Go out and try different things; because so many of us have hidden talents just waiting for discovery. Take it from me, there’s nothing worse in life than wasted talent. I learned that the hard way, and this time I won’t let my SXU experience pass me up. Back in 98’, I bought into so much negative garbage and falsehoods that I eventually believed it. Today, I’m truly blessed and grateful for a second chance at SXU. I pledge I will make the most out of this experience. Take that pledge with me. Remember, today we’re living in great times at Saint Xavier University, so let’s embrace it, enjoy the moment and grow together! Because together, we are SXU.