Apr 9, 2021Liked by Phil Huckelberry

I was also there saving the world with you by jumping at Gulick Hall 25 years ago. It has been interesting for me because I attended my 20th reunion in 2019. I had even gone to alumni events prior to that, because there are enough of us in NC to attempt group events. My feelings toward IWU had been pretty positive overall, especially after being on campus for that reunion and seeing all the familiar brick buildings again, wandering Presser, etc.

But now, it's a challenge. My relationship is probably as much tied to the School of Music as IWU as a whole. And the music department isn't at all what it was when we attended. Enrollment is way down, and the SoM is even more isolated from the rest of IWU than 20 years ago.

Plus, that liberal arts education with all the things outside the SoM shaped a lot of who I am. I have a job where knowing little bits about a huge range of topics and being able to talk to experts in any field is part of what I do. That's something I got through the liberal arts, but I don't know that I would be able to get that at IWU now.

Expand full comment
Apr 9, 2021Liked by Phil Huckelberry

Ahhh, I remember that simultaneous jump to counter China. I didn't jump off that wall, but I was off to the side and I jumped as high as I could. And why I do I remember balloons with that? Weird how my brain inserted balloons into that memory.

Yeah, I've been struggling with what to do about donating. I'm a semi-regular donator, even if it's just for $19.97 (my graduation year). Some years I've even just donated five bucks--exactly for the reason you mentioned, it's about the percentage of alumni who gave.

This year I'm holding back just to make a statement. In coming years, I might return to giving.

But man, you make some great points about what does it really mean to be connected to a college. Especially for people like us who aren't into the Greek system or into the IWU sports scene. I can't recall ever going to a sports game there.

One year I found out that one of our teams (I think it was womens basketball?) won some sort of championship. The way I found out was by reading one of those radio clip things for WESN on my show.

I also had similar experiences where I was closer to the school within five years after graduation. I founded an art alumni group to keep people connected via an weekly email/listserv group and art alumni website (all crafted by hand via html). It was tricky getting people contribute an comments to the email group. It seemed people lost interest, so after five or so years I stopped maintaining it. Even though I absolutely loved the idea of the art alumni keeping in touch with tips on the art scene, how to get your art out there. I loved collecting resources together for all the art alumni. Ooooh man. Anyhow.

Fast forward another, what, ten years, and we've got Facebook. So I made the Facebook group, "IWU Art Alumni and Art Students". It's a nice group. Somewhat quiet, but every now and then someone posts something. About 150 members, which I suppose is pretty nice, given that the School of Art normally had between 5-15 new art students come in per year.

Even though "students" are welcome to join the group, I can't recall many students joining. Not sure if it's a generation thing where Facebook isn't cool. Or maybe they aren't aware the group exists.

All that to say... when I was doing the email group and now the Facebook group, I still ask myself, what is REALLY our connection with each other? Sure there are people I actually know and am friends with. But the people whom we didn't go to school with... yeah, we have some teachers in common. We have the bricks in common? And the school building? (which by the way, when I started at IWU in 1993, the art building was the newest building on campus! Crazy!)

I suppose the hardest thing is that many of us haven't quite continued with producing art.

It's like college was this magic land where we could make magical art. Such freedom! Then after graduation, reality hits, and it's like "oh yeah, I gotta do real life stuff now, so that means no more making art."

There's this art alumni angst about not continuing on with becoming a big artist in the galleries. It's everyone's dream. Heck, art history trains us to think that artists become famous. We study all the museum-famous artists, so we desire to become that. And that's not just IWU. It's most art schools. (and by the way our art history professor was absolutely fantastic). My point is that art majors want to be making a life making art, but then it doesn't happen for most.

So what does that mean for an art alumni group?

I would hope we can get together and share what we are able to do in our real adult lives. Even the smallest piece of creative work.

Going back to the school today. Yeah, the school today seems to becoming more corporate. Back in our day, Minor Myers certainly embodied this open, creative, be a goofy spiky ball persona. (the spiky ball is actually from one of his speeches). I'm curious if IWU students today would characterize the school today as being quirky and unusual. Actually, what did alumni from the 80s think of the school in the 90s? Did we get more corporate? Was the school more a melting pot in the 80s?

What did the alumni in the 1950s think when the school was erecting all these new buildings in the 1960s? I haven't visited the campus in many years. But I have to admit, it's a little alienating seeing that giant new library. I liked our quirkly Sheean Library. And the new dorms. Those are weird. Really. They feel weird. Mostly because they weren't OUR dorms. This wasn't OUR library. Ok, that's addressing the buildings. What about the people?

I'd be curious how the Greek programs are doing on campus. Have they grown? Or are they pretty much the same percentage split in Greek/NotGreek.

Remember the split in the Saga cafeteria? You remember how that was. There was two clear split seating areas in Saga. One side was the Greek. The other side was the non-Greek. Man, that split was clear as night and day.

I wonder if that Saga split still occurs today. Or if those purple plastic Saga drinking cups are still being used. Maybe that's what we have in connection with the school today. The purple plastic Saga cups. And these days, if I have a peppermint candy in my pocket, I could hand one to you saying, "wannasagamint?"

Expand full comment

And now in a Huckelberry-inspired meta-haze I realize I'm going to have to write a f***ing essay of a comment. This might take me a day.

Expand full comment

Do I correctly recall that Mike Roche was in the WESN studio playing the helicopter part from The Happiest Days of Our Lives as the event was "covered live"?

Expand full comment