Today was the first day that our new State Quad Dining Hall (Facebook log-in required to view this excellent video, I believe) at the University at Albany was up and running in full production mode, after a year of being down for construction, and it was great to see the new students on campus appreciating the omelets, waffles, and other brunchy goodness offered there this morning.
I find Move-In Days (especially for Freshmen) to be among the best days of the year working in a college environment, as they exemplify most strongly the awesome responsibility that our staff and faculty carry in shaping and sharing the lives of these young people, welcoming them to a new phase in their development, even while assuring parents that their children will be safe, protected, cared for and nurtured. I have the most immense respect imaginable for the Residence Life staff who help make this transition as smooth as it can be for these incoming students. They truly do awesome, incredible work.
As I watch our new students arrive at UAlbany, I’m also helping Katelin pack up for her move back to Geneseo to begin her sophomore year. We’re heading out to Western New York early tomorrow morning, in an embarrassingly large (to her) and convenient (to me) van, filled with all of the goodies that she needs to transition from a two-person corridor style dorm room to a six-person suite scenario.
Katelin spent this summer working at UAlbany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, so she’s been my carpool co-pilot throughout that time, while also accompanying Marcia and me to Iceland earlier in August. So we’ve had a lot of time together over the past three months. I’m glad she’s excited to get back to school, even while I will be missing her company as I go to and from work each day.
I think this perspective is helpful, actually, as I watch so many parents leaving their students with us at UAlbany, be it for the first, second, third or fourth time. It’s always exciting as a parent to wave and drive away, but there’s also always a bittersweet element to that drop and depart. Joy mixed with concern, in equal measure. It’s a massive leap of faith to entrust your child to others, and I am humbled by the realization that my job centers on providing students with the sorts of services that only their parents have provided them in the past.
So bless all the students arriving at campuses from coast to coast this year, and bless all the parents who take and leave them there. There’s no better place to feel the visceral, palpable thrill of the future, and all the promise and potential rife therein, than in the dining halls, classrooms, and residential quads of our college campuses. How fortunate I am to be able to experience that world on a daily basis!