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A Great and Inspiring Institution

Early in my journalistic career, I worked in a peculiar newsroom. Our staff was devoted entirely and exclusively to producing just one product a week – a Sunday newspaper.

Among other things, that made for an odd work schedule. By Saturday, when the paper was “live,” a reporter like me might come in at 9 in the morning and work straight through, with little time even for meals, until the paper was put to bed around 1 a.m. On the other hand, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays we might only work five or six hours as we eased into the week’s assignments.

I recall one of those lazy, beginning-of-the-week days in particular. An editor friend of mine abruptly packed up his briefcase and rose to leave. I glanced at the clock; it was not quite 2:30.

“Leaving early?” I said a little too loudly, hoping to get a rise out of him.

He wasn’t having it. “It’s too late to leave early,” he said matter-of-factly as he disappeared out the door. 

There is an art in knowing when to leave, and it’s one of those subjects the management textbooks don’t cover. 

As most of you know by now, I recently announced that I will continue in theSt. Norbert presidency for the current academic year, as well as the next one. That means when I turn out the lights one final time, on May 31, 2017, I will have had the honor of serving in this position for nine years.

Of course, it feels as if it’s been nine weeks. The sense of time whizzing by really hit me during move-in day, when we ushered to campus our arriving first-year students – a record 617 of them. As I lugged another shrink-wrapped case of Aquafina to a third-floor dorm room, it occurred to me that when I welcomed my first class to St. Norbert, back in the summer of 2008, these eager young men and women of the Class of 2019 were starting sixth grade!

As I said when I disclosed my decision, two years is, admittedly, a lot of notice. But I had promised our trustees that, if Deb and I ever reached the point where we saw the finish line coming more clearly into view, we would let them know that. To their credit, the trustees simply wanted as much time as possible to plan if and when they would need to find the eighth president of St. Norbert College.

I have discussed elsewhere the reasons behind my decision, so no need to recap those here. But I do wish to take the opportunity to acknowledge that everybody – and I mean everybody, from our trustees to our employees to our students to our alumni to our community friends – has been wonderfully understanding and, for that, Deb and I are immensely grateful.

And so here we are. If this presidency were a football game – and yes, to anticipate your question, sometimes it does feel that way! – we have entered the fourth quarter. Yet as every Packer fan knows, a game’s outcome is seldom determined by that point. I have much remaining on my “to-do” list. That would include a renovated and expanded Schuldes Sports Center, more endowed academic programs, more endowed faculty positions, more scholarship dollars, the renovation of Boyle Hall and the Pennings Activity Center, the refreshing of our older residence halls, and, and, and ….

And … to do all that, we will continue to ask for your dedication and generosity. 

Certainly we know first-hand what a powerful combination that makes. In the front of this issue, in the space usually occupied by my welcome, Phil Oswald, our vice president of college advancement, discusses the successful culmination of Campaign St. Norbert: Full Ahead. The campaign was designed to raise $90 million over seven years. Instead, you donated nearly $106 million in just six, and so we ended it a year early.


Oct. 31, 2015