With our boots on
To everything, a season.
A time to rain. A lot. This year it seemed like there was only one season: the rainy one. Even Commencement, when festivities usually get an exemption from the most prolific spring rains and are graced by sunshine, was attended this year by downpours seeking to dampen the joy of the 5,000-plus visitors and 700 graduates. No dice, though. The wettest May 15 in history, following the wettest May 14—and equaling a normal May’s precipitation for the entire month—was not nearly enough to get a Puget Sound graduate down. Jubilation and celebration reigned supreme as the Class of 2011 marched into the future,
with their boots on.
A time to plant. The clouds finally parted the day after graduation, springing upon us, at last, some glorious Pacific Northwest days and the long rain’s lush, green legacy. The campus is breathtaking this time of year, with the cascade of color bursting from tulips and azaleas and rhododendron and cherry blossoms and dogwood against the majestic backdrop of giant firs and fully foliated birches, maples, and beeches. But this year a maze of other lines on campus catch the eye, too—endless corridors of construction fences winding around the campus from the front of Collins Library to the entry for the field house. The
time for these fences will be short, though, as they give way to new pathways, new gathering places, new plantings, new greenspaces.
A time to break down. Piles of old, broken concrete also are visible, material that once made up the cracked and crazy paths that crisscrossed the marshes of Karlen Quad and Todd Field. And the last remnants of South Hall are getting plowed under by giant bulldozers, opening up a great vista reaching from the President’s Woods all the way to the elephant doors of Memorial Fieldhouse, and winding its way past the Color Post and Todd Field, and through the stands of great conifers. Some might say the time to tear down the temporary structures of South Hall, set in place for an intended five-year period more than 60 years ago, had long since past. But now, at last, its time has come. Rubble everywhere.
A time to build up. As the dust clears, the gap where South Hall once stood is now being sculpted into an event lawn, an eye-shaped space for recreation, relaxation, outdoor classes, Log Jams, receptions, and performances. With landscaped seating and a 360-degree view that will take your breath away, you can see The Mountain from here. And if you lift your eyes to east and south, you will get a glimpse of the stunning new Center for Health Sciences—Weyerhaeuser Hall—now almost complete and completely impressive, bringing together academic programs in psychology, exercise science, neuroscience, and physical and occupational therapy in a unified facility that will enable teaching, healing, treating, discovering, and collaborating in a remarkable ensemble of clinics, classrooms, and laboratories.
Out in front: The 12-foot-wide Commencement Walk takes shape, stretching all the way from 11th Street, north around the new event space, and then back along Todd Field, past Trimble and Jones, across Karlen Quad, around the Color Post, and ending at a new courtyard in front of Collins Library. Phase one of the walk is done, and members of the Class of 2011 already got their boot prints on it on that rainy Commencement Day. And at Reunion, the classes ending in
ones and sixes took their first stroll on the great granite way. A magical campus, growing by increments and gradually tripling in size across almost a century, will finally be united into a single plan by summer’s end.
A time to plan. From the “eye” of the new event lawn, look to the left and you will see the space where we plan a new residential facility, right across from Regester, to combine living and learning in imaginative ways. Then glance up to the right, where the field house is, and imagine just to its west the curved roof on a brand-new aquatics center, with expanded athletic facilities and a new fitness center. It’s time for that. We are planning for a new minor in Latino studies, too, a major in environmental policy, a new vision for the humanities, and new endowed professorships across a range of disciplines. We are planning to install a new technology infrastructure to position Puget Sound to be at the leading edge for the future, and we are planning new strategies to address the challenges that the future holds for us.
A time to gather together. And we will face challenges. As I look around campus this busy summer season and think through the exciting projects in progress, the new gathering places we are creating and the plans still to come to fruition, I am reminded that this is a time for us all to bring our efforts together—
faculty and alumni, students and administrators, volunteers and professional staff—to imagine and bring to pass a season of unprecedented excellence and advancement for Puget Sound. It’s a challenging time, yes: a time to make tough choices, to trim our sails; but it is no time to curtail our ambitions. Not now.
Now is the time for us to shine—with our boots on.