Thursday, August 31, 2006

Of Pigs and things

I am an extremely proud graduate of what is now known as Lindenwood University. Lindenwood has an amazing history, being the second oldest university west of the Mississippi River, and more recently has garnered attention because of it's President, Dr. Dennis Spellman , pictured above.

Dennis Spellman died yesterday, and while he may be better known for his pigs for tuition program which garnered them the name Pork Chop U (according to Matt Lauer anyway), it should be noted that he saved Lindenwood. When he took over in 1989, Lindenwood was dying a painful death, with less than 800 students. At his death yesterday, Lindenwood has an enrollment of almost 15,000, and is a beautiful, growing, thriving campus.

I will always remember him shaking my hand before my first semester there began, the kindness of each and every instructor (without their help I would have never been able to find a teaching job in Missouri from far away Florida), and the true value of his "values based" education. We had no co-ed dorms, there was absolutely no alcohol permitted on campus, and we were all required to take a religion class. While these things were a thorn in my side as a young adult, they did indeed help shape the adult I am today.

Whether you fancy him a tyrant (many do because of some controversial property purchases) or a treasure (many do because Lindenwood has achieved amazing growth while remaining debt free), the world is certainly poorer for the loss of him.

I will never forget the way our instructors lined the sidewalks on graduation day to applaud us as we walked that long scary walk from college into our "real" lives. And, for that, I thank you, Dr. Dennis Spellman.

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