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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Back to my old school

Wow! OU has changed and yet it's still much as I remember. E.W. Scripps Hall, where I sit writing in the J-school library, used to be on the outer edges of the campus. But it's now going to be the center of action as the new Baker Center Student Union is completed just down the hill.

The drive on U.S. 33 is much the same as it always was -- my favorite one-tree hill is still visible (the U2 song by the same name was hugely popular in 1986), Dee's Diner is still in business. The Trade Post in Nelsonville is having a special on 9mm pistols and the trailer that Danny and I used to joke would be our first home is still falling apart up in the woods.

Athens still has the same overall skyline as you descend down that last hill into the valley. Has it really been 17 years? Seems hard to imagine. And yet...

Had a brief moment of panic before I left this morning, wondering where to park. We never had cars here; the campus wasn't conducive to keeping one. So I headed for the city parking garage next to the College of Communication, the only one I remember.

Everything seems smaller to me. The College Green used to always seem so vast -- tundra-like in winter -- but it was a lovely little stroll. And of course the weather couldn't be more beautiful. It's the second week of spring quarter, which is an absolutely lovely time in Southeast Ohio. The dogwoods are just beginning to bloom and the spring green grass is vivid in its emerald richness.

The students look the same as they did when I was here. J-students are still as serious as ever as they slouch along the hallways, reading the OU Post. And the Post itself looks more elegant, more sophisticated. Today's lead story: "Grads face thriving job market," by Michelle Simakis (wonder if she's any relation to PD reporter Andrea Simakis).

Big news this week is the Blogging Conference. Keynote speaker is Dan Gillmor, author of "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People." And tomorrow is Pulitzer Day. Visiting professor Leonard Pitts, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist from The Miami Herald, will be on a panel with PD's PP-WC Connie Schultz. And Tom Suddes, former PD statehouse bureau chief and (according to the flyer) Ph.D. candidate at Scripps, will moderate.

Lot's happening. I'm trying to remember if we had access to such folks when I was here. I think not, but I could be wrong. Dr. Anne Cooper-Chen, who taught foreign correspondence when I was a student, told me over lunch that the visiting professorship is fairly new and began with former hostage Terry Anderson. Though he no longers teaches here, I'm told he owns the best blues bar in Athens.

Better go feed the meter. And I need to stop in the bookstore to by assorted sundries for the boys.

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