My View from South Hill
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Last night I ran into the Ithaca College provost, Greg Woodward, in the hallway connecting our offices. Nothing unusual in that except that the time was 6:45 p.m.
I knew that Greg was headed to the monthly Faculty Council meeting that begins at 7:00 p.m., and as usual he had stayed on campus and worked through to that hour. “Why are you here?” Greg asked. “No wait, let me guess.”
Greg’s first guess was that maybe I was planning to visit the class in the Park School of Communications that was meeting that evening to discuss the fate of traditional media in a time of new technologies. The class was joined (via Skype) by Jill Agostino (an IC alumn who is assistant editor of the New York Times), by Peter King (an IC alum who works at CBS Radio News), by David Muir (an IC alum who is an ABC television news anchor), and by Diane Sawyer (who is not an IC alum but appears to have had a successful career anyway). It was an all-star cast discussing with our students one of the most important topics of our time. But no, that was not where I was headed.
Greg’s second guess was that maybe I was planning to attend L’Orfeo, the early 17th century opera written by Monteverdi that recounts the Greek legend of Orpheus descending to Hades to rescue his wife Eurydice. L'Orfeo is the current collaborative production of our Theatre program and the School of Music, being performed on stage in the Dillingham Center. It would have made for a wonderful evening but that was not where I was headed.
Greg’s third guess was that I might be on my way to a movie. IC alum Bill Carraro is producer of the soon-to-be-released film The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and based on a short story by my personal favorite science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Carraro, a graduate of the class of 1981, has previously produced such films as American History X, The Golden Compass, Frequency, and The Wolfman. As a gesture of support and thanks for his IC education, Bill booked an entire local theater for the evening, rented a bus, and invited all Park School students to see a pre-release screening of The Adjustment Bureau. This would have been a fabulous way to spend my evening, but was not where I was headed.
“Of course!” Greg said. The IC Symphonic Band was performing, in Ford Hall on campus that evening, works by Timothy Mahr, Warren Benson, Martin Ellerby and David Maslanka. That is where Greg would probably have been himself had he not gone to the Faculty Council meeting. But no, that was not where I was going.
Now Greg was really scratching his head. A quick check of the campus events calendar on his cell phone unearthed another possibility. Maybe I was headed to the free evening of stand up and improv comedy being put on by the IC Comedy Club in IC Square? That sounded like fun, but it was not where I was heading.
The Ithaca College provost works really hard and I knew he had a Faculty Council meeting to get to, so I relented and filled him in. I was headed to an Etiquette Dinner sponsored by several student organizations in our School of Business, including the American Marketing Association and the National Association of Black Accountants. That may sound like a dull affair involving the close study of which fork to use for which course, but in fact this annual event is a fun and low-pressure opportunity to practice both table manners and social graces for use in a job interview setting. There was a reserved stiffness among the participants at the beginning of the meal, but by the end students at each table had effectively bonded with the table host who served as a surrogate for a potential employer. That bonding is exactly what is supposed to happen over a meal during an actual job interview.
After the networking-over-coffee event that followed the Etiquette Dinner, I decided to stop by the IC Comedy Club performance. A student was doing some very funny material about how there isn’t much to do in Ithaca. I smiled at the irony and headed home after a normal Tuesday evening on the Ithaca College campus.
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