As much as I love the long, hot Texas summer — and no joking, I really do — I always get a little restless around the first week of August.
With the summer session winding down, the number of students on campus drops to near zero. Most of the summer camps that bring droves of middle and high school students to campus are over, and with the exception of weekly orientation programs for new students, the campus is just a little too quiet.
Not that there aren’t lots of other kinds of activity, mind you. Summer is an amazingly busy time on the administrative side of the house, especially in a legislative year — and even more so in a legislative year that saw three special sessions (well, actually two and a half). There are budgets to put together, schedules to plan, faculty to hire, reports to write, and meetings to attend. The work that goes into closing out one academic year and preparing for the next keeps us bureaucrats pretty busy.
Still, a campus isn’t a campus without students, and they’re the ones I miss at this time of year.
By the second week of August, things start to pick up. As I drove through campus last Sunday afternoon, the foyer of our beautiful new music building was packed with students planning their schedules and getting ready for the busy semester that’s just around the corner.
The Lions football team was practicing — and practicing hard — on the new turf that was just installed at Memorial Stadium. And just in case you’ve been in Antarctica on a scientific expedition this summer and haven’t heard about the new field, Memorial Stadium now boasts what may well be the largest on-field logo in college football — a giant Lion that stretches from sideline to sideline, and 25 yard line to 25 yard line. I’m told it’s best viewed from space.
And the excitement in Lion athletics isn’t just about the new field — it’s about the new winning spirit that Athletic Director Ryan Ivey and Head Football Coach Colby Carthel have brought to the university. Look for great things from all of our student athletes this coming year — and come out to see them perform at Memorial Stadum, the Field House, and all of our other great sports venues.
This week, students will be moving into their residence halls, including the new 542-bed hall at the corner of Culver and West Neal Street. This beautiful new addition to campus offers our students private bedrooms in two-person suites, study lounges, meeting rooms, recreational areas, and wireless access throughout.
Plans call for a bicycle repair shop and a convenience store.
Living and learning on campus has never been better.
This fall, we will welcome the largest freshman class in A&M-Commerce history. With freshman and sophomores now required to live on campus, we expect the pace of activity on campus — and around town — to pick up considerably.
We hope that you will welcome and embrace our students. They are here to learn, but they are also here to grow. We encourage them to be active in the university and in the community, reaching out to make a difference.
You can make a difference in their lives as well, by coming to see them compete in sports, perform in dramatic and musical productions, and display their intellectual and creative achievements in a multitude of ways. You’ll be witnessing — and contributing to — the transformation of their lives. In the process, you just might find yourself being transformed as well — by their energy, their passion, and their desire for a better world.
Next year, we will celebrate our 125th anniversary. We invite all members of our community to celebrate with us, as we mark a remarkable milestone in the history of a university that started in 1889 with the vision, determination, and dedication of a young man named William Leonidas Mayo.
On his gravestone on Lee Street is etched one of his favorite sayings: “No industrious, ambitious youth will be denied an education if I can prevent it.”
His words — and his vision — still exemplify the spirit of this great university.
Dr. Dan Jones serves as President of Texas A&M University-Commerce.