By Hung Tran
As I close my eyes and type in these very first words, my mind takes me back to the scenes where I was a lucky witness of a historic moment to our community and our institution.
Saturday was chilly and windy, but on Sunday came the very moment that you know spring has officially come. The warmth, cheerfulness and excitement are all here to stay.
The end of a school year always brings a special kind of feeling. You would realize all of a sudden that you start to look at yourself and look around, to see what you have accomplished and what you have failed to. It is the memories, good and bad ones. But this time, I like to think about the future, with the kind of optimism that such a spring day deserve.
This year has been a little bit of a turbulence in a lot of ways, but two weeks ago came an event that had me believe again, “spring has officially come.”
It was a small cozy dining room in a white house down the hill, just a few steps away from Burke Recital Hall. The light was warm, so was the atmosphere. At the end of the long table was the calm but astute Adam Weinberg, Denison’s incoming president. He was carefully listening to the voices of passion from the students who cared deeply about this institution and the community we all shared. The students passionately spoke about the best things about Denison, and the problems they saw room for improvement.
I sensed something different is coming, something good. I sensed concerns, but I also sensed energy, passion to provide solutions. And I sensed a pride.
I usually ask my friends what they would remember about our school 10 years from the day we graduate. However, we haven’t been able to come to a conclusion. It was the common sub-communities and bonds they we shared, but sometimes it became too segregated. What about when we meet another alumni who did not go to Denison at the same time we did? Where is the unity?
I think it is time that we embark on the search for the one Denison pride, the one Denison soul. One that you would be looking back in years and sharing the pride with our peers.
Alumni from the 1950s recalled their signature D-Day when they would run out of class at 8:30 a.m. and do activities together. D-Day became the one thing that they shared the pride in. Well, at least that generation could take pride in.
This year’s D-Day is a sign of something that is coming close to what we want to see as a community. She said “it was the greatest boosts to school spirit that [she has] seen in a long time.”
As we are about to take a historic turn, there is conversation that has come up in a lot of forums, “Where and how do we find the very common identity amongst ourselves?”
Denison has stepped up its game.
Denison definitely a different place from 15 years ago when President Dale T. Knobel came into office in the 1997-1998 school year. Facility and endowment are at their best, so is the diversity scene. The dynamics of the school has greatly transformed. Dr. Knobel once said in an interview with The Denisonian, “Denison ought to pass from my hand into Dr. Weinberg’s hand with great students, a terrific faculty, outstanding facility, and really good resources.”
It is a different Denison than the one that I have seen during the past two years. I am most excited about the part about student: The enthusiasm level, the degree of engagement, and the quality of conversation have been excellent.
This is the time of historic transition for our community, where it is at such a good place to not only tackle the various problems and keep up the good work to sustain our success, but also go beyond that, to create the Denison that we have always been talking about. I believe we can shift the focus from being problem-solvers to starting to think creatively and critically as innovators. I believe we can do that. With the visions Dr. Weinberg is bringing and the importance he put on the community that is built on students, with the enthusiasm bubbling up in every circles showing that student leaders are recognizing what is lacking, we are at the best place to take such step to look into ourselves and bring “our self” out of it.
Dear lovers of this community, this institution, and all that they entail, would you send me an email sharing what it means to be the Denison identity in you?