Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dinner with the Prez

So tonight I went to a reception at the house of our interim University President, Tom Buchanan. First let me say that I always respected Phil Dubois and felt he truly had UW's best interests at heart. UW is in a MUCH better place now that it was when he arrived, and he deserves a lot of the credit for that. I didn't agree with every decision or intitiative, but the results are impressive when one takes a step back. I also attended a number of social events and receptions at Phil's house, and always enjoyed myself there.

Tonight, however, was different. Catering staff and the ever-popular open bar were there. So were about a dozen members of PACMWA, the President's Advisory Council on Minority and Women's Affairs...and a few spouses or partners. Tom and his wife Jacque do not live in a palacial estate. They have a simple yet elegant home on the south side of Laramie's tree area. The menu seemed VERY elite, especially for a vary small group of people and an invitation that called for "casual dress." Prawns, quesadillas, crudites, chocolade creme dessert cups and tartlettes. There was also an Ahi tuna parfait, with diced bell peppers, eggs, and topped with a small scoop of cavier. Nice spread, eh?

And yet, it was the oddest was the LEAST pretentious event I've been to in ages. Tom answered the door in blue jeans. We were impressed by the two beautiful carousel horses in the living room. We were AMAZED when Jacque told us that Tom MADE them...carved from solid wood. He was gracious, genuine, and...above all...human. We moved outside to the backyard for conversation. Francisco talked a bit about his sabbatical in Chile. We teased Beth about the fact she's just starting a semester long sabbatical. We rejoiced in the fact that Arietta is back from two rounds chemo, and laughed when she informed us her hair has grown back enough that she woke up with bed head the other day. We talked about the tornado in Wright, Hurricane Katrina, and our general digust with W. It was a group of friends enjoying each other's company, even if we didn't all know each other well.

I hold out great hope for UW with Tom in charge. I sincerely hope that he throws his hat into the ring...and gets the job permanently. I leave you with the comment that gave me the most to think about tonight. Tom told us when he was asked to step in as Interim President, he had only two conditions. The first was that he would not have to move, just to have a bigger house in which to hold events. The second was that he didn't want a UW car. He told the trustees that he and Jacque each had a car, and only a two car garage. Neither of them wanted to park their cars on the street just so a UW car could sit in a garage. He also told them that the money either a car or home would cost could be better spent buying someone out of a class or paying for another part-time lecturer's salary. Apparently his time as the VP of Academic Affairs is not lost on him. What do you think? Someone with priorities worthy of a university President?

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