Each semester begins with a certain amount of excitement, optimism, anxiety and anticipation (and those four don't represent the totality of emotions), and the one that has just been completed has run the gamut of good and bad.
There is no way to get around how the passing of any individual at a university the size of Point Park affects you or someone close to you. Over the past four months, the university dealt with the passing of more than one staff member along with one student and one faculty member. Of course, the loss of that faculty member hit me the hardest -- that individual and I saw each other on a daily basis, had offices on the same floor, and always sought to put our students' needs ahead of our own.
Yes, the loss of each person is awful; however, we are reminded to remember the good that was inherent in each person and to ensure that he or she leaves a positive legacy.
I spent more time this fall with this year's freshman class (all of them are in the School of Communication) than I had the opportunity to do with the previous two classes. And I come away from that experience knowing there are some tremendously talented young people in our program. I saw some of them involve themselves in meaningful roles at the campus radio and television stations; take the initial steps in their advertising/public relations development; or grow as photographers and photojournalists. I don't know if it's fair to label a group that has been on campus for only 15 weeks, but I believe this class is going to be as creative as any recent group of students that I can remember.
I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next semester, when the uncertainty of being a first-semester freshman will have worn off.
I also had the chance this fall to meet hundreds of high school students. I spoke to about 14 high schools throughout central and western Pennsylvania about careers in communications and Point Park, and I also attended the fall Journalism Education Association convention. I have no way of knowing what percentage of those students ultimately will opt for a career in communications, but I hope they continue to demonstrate the same kind of enthusiasm for the field.
Now it's time to rest, to more fully reassess how my classes went this semester, and to consider what changes will come in the spring term. The first day of classes comes about 3-1/2 weeks from now, and I admit I'm already feeling that excitement, optimism, anxiety and anticipation.
And that's a good thing!