Wednesday, March 12, 2014


One of the standard complaints about urban university campuses is that you rarely see your colleagues. People commute in and hurry back home and you see them, at best, in thankless committee meetings. You find out about cool colleagues at conferences elsewhere, or from colleagues elsewhere who assume you know everyone at your own school. Give us more common space, we've been demanding, so some of those potential synergies will happen here!

The University Center is designed for such synergies, and they happen with satisfying regularity. Today I had a whole series of delightful reunions. Right now I'm sitting in the 2nd floor dining hall, and have greeted a student actor I've known for a few years, and a student taking the East Asian religion class I'm auditing. (After class today she and I had exchanged sympathies - in less than three weeks on Daoism, how did we get from the ethereal austerity of the Daodejing to a 12-day festival on the tenth anniversary of Hong King's return to China, with three priests garbed red as gods presenting offerings to hundreds of other gods, as long phalanxes of supporters in yellow robes sang droning anthems?) The personal pizza's yummy, too, if not pretty - here a Margarita balsamic + pesto.)

And before that... I attended a meeting at the India China Institute, helping finalize an application for an extension of the Luce-funded project ERSEH, together with an urban environmentalist from NSPE and a digital mapping specialist from Parsons. Emerging on the ground floor of the Parsons Building I noticed some student work inspired by Japanese Shinto shrines (yesterday was the third anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake/tsunami), and soon found myself in a conversation about it with W, the university Archivist, whom I know from New School history shenanigans. We talked about the exhibition my New School history comrade J and I are helping put together in the big Parsons Gallery this summer together with gallery curator R - and then R happened by and joined us. As we chatted I winked to a student I haven't seen since last year... This is how a campus works, right?

And then, crossing into the new building on my way to pizza happiness, I bumped into someone from the Provost's Office I worked with last semester, as we eavesdropped on a trumpeter from the Jazz Program filling the empty auditorium with Miles Davis. Sweet!

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