Tag Archives: college

2015 Photo-Some-Days 3.16.2015

Having been a Texas Longhorn fan for most of my life, standing here with my son as a prospective Oklahoma University student feels a bit odd, like I’ve snuck behind enemy lines. I suppose the only thing that would have made this moment sweeter would have been me, clad in burnt orange, with my hand raised in a defiant “Hook ‘Em” as I belted out “The Eyes of Texas” at the top of my lungs. Thankfully, I’m not that dumb. What will it be like if he chooses to attend OU? Can I muster a “Boomer Sooner” from somewhere in these stands? Truth is, OU is a great school, and if my son chooses to enroll here, he will do so with my blessing. Now, “Boomer Sooner” – that will take some work.

When I was a freshman at Oklahoma in 1946, the game was sold out – and it’s been sold out ever since.” ~ Darrell Royal via BrainyQuote.com

I appreciated getting to see inside during our recent tour of OU. 3.13.2015

I appreciated getting to see inside during our recent tour of OU. 3.13.2015

2015 Photo-Some-Days 3.14.2015

The Peggy V. Helmerich Great Reading room in the Bizzell Memorial Library at the University of Oklahoma is nothing short of inspirational. Reeking of history, the room beckons one back in time to an age at which this 50-something man wished he could enroll himself! The notion that generations of students have read, studied, and learned here – and continue to do so today – is quite fascinating. I could have lingered for awhile, but alas, our tour must move on.

“The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.” ~ Carl T. Rowan via brainyquote.com

2015 Photo-Some-Days 3.13.2015

We toured the University of Oklahoma, which for our son is a prospective college choice. During our tour, our guide took us into a section of the library called “The Stacks”, where old volumes are stored and accessible to students. As our guide told the story of a girl that had supposedly fallen through one of the glass tiles to her death, thus rendering The Stacks to be haunted, I explored a couple of the aisles. I found this volume from 1902. I wonder who the last student was that opened this? I couldn’t help but be rather enamored with these old bound pieces of history, and I’m thankful that OU has preserved them for future generations to enjoy.

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai via brainyquote.com

History preserved at the University of Oklahoma. 3.13.2015

History preserved at the University of Oklahoma. 3.13.2015

Risk Manager in Residence


IMG_0833The letter from the Spencer Educational Foundation informed me I had been selected by the Katie School of Insurance & Financial Services at Illinois State University to spend two days with their students as Risk Manager in Residence. I was thrilled! Then, as the reality of this commitment settled into my brain, I was humbled.

My ISU "home" for two days: The State Farm Hall of Business.

My ISU “home” for two days: The State Farm Hall of Business.

I have enjoyed a very fulfilling career, and the opportunity to share some of my experiences and wisdom with my industry’s future was quite an honor. Over two days I was to lecture in three courses, two sessions apiece. Tuesday evening I would deliver a presentation to which all students of the Katie School were invited. I wanted the content to be meaningful to the students, and the Katie School faculty was extremely helpful in sharing information on class size, majors represented, and course content thus far in the term.

I began preparing my material a few weeks before departure. My aspirations were grand: I wanted to teach, encourage and inspire these students. As I began preparing my first course outline, my brain froze. “Who am I to stand before these students,” I began to ask myself. “What if my content is too basic? Or too advanced? What if I’m boring? What if we don’t connect? What if…”

I hate self-doubt. Self-doubt is one of the greatest barriers to success that we place before ourselves. Looking back in hindsight, however, I realize this wasn’t really a case of self-doubt. It was more an acknowledgement of how important this program is to the schools and students who participate. I would tailor a message with content specific to each class I would address. And I would deliver a presentation Tuesday evening that would be informative, entertaining, and inspiring. I prayed to God that He would give me the words to say, and He did.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Central Illinois Regional Airport awaiting my flight home. I’ve received lots of positive feedback from the Katie School. I’m pleased that my offerings were well received and added value. Over my two days at the Katie School, I was given a glimpse into my industry’s future. The students I met were bright, engaging, articulate, and excited for their futures. They asked many insightful questions. They each have much to offer. The future for my industry is very bright, indeed!

As I think back over the last two days, I’m betting that, in many respects, I gained more from this experience than the students did. I leave Illinois State inspired and refreshed. I have a renewed vigor for my career, and I have a new set of young friends to keep me on my toes. I thank God for this experience, and I will continue to seek to honor Him with my work.

If you are a risk management professional, I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering your time and expertise to the Risk Manager in Residence program. Trust me: you will be blessed.


My Concordia

Last weekend I attended a reunion of classmates and friends from Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, TX. Each of us attended and/or graduated from Concordia between 1980 and 1986. I came away from that weekend recharged, rejuvenated, and ever so thankful for these good Christian friends and my status as a Concordia alumnus.

Concordia alumni assembled before our beloved 80's era logo. Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

Concordia alumni assembled before our beloved 80’s era logo. Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

Working in corporate America, I always enjoy comparing college experiences with many professional colleagues. Based on these discussions I have come to appreciate the unique and rich character of my college experience. Many business professionals I know attended large universities and have Greek letters associated with their college experience. They root for their alma mater football team, wear the colors, and puff up with pride when their school is positioned for the coveted BCS Championship. When they tell me these stories, I smile. When I tell them about my Concordia experience, they’re intrigued.

Logo now: Concordia Lutheran College logo positioned on the new campus. Photo credit: DeLisa Slayton Strege

Logo now: Concordia Lutheran College logo positioned on the new campus. Photo credit: DeLisa Slayton Strege

Concordia Lutheran College logo against a blue Texas sky. Photo credit: Rev. Keith Schweitzer

Logo then: Concordia Lutheran College logo against a blue Texas sky. Photo credit: Rev. Keith Schweitzer

When I enrolled at Concordia in the fall of 1980, our student body totaled somewhere in the mid-300’s. That’s three hundreds. I very quickly knew everybody and they knew me. Our professors and administrators – even the college president – knew each of us by name. They would greet us by name with a smile as we’d pass by in the hall or on one of the campus’ beautiful sidewalks. They dined with us in Texas Hall. Our instructors were not Graduate Assistants; they were full professors, many of whom had earned their PhD. Class sizes were small and each syllabus included the professor’s home telephone number, just in case we had a question as we studied at night; and they were disappointed if we had a question but didn’t call. Concordia offered an amazing sense of community, and that community included her students, faculty and administrators. That sense of community forged a bond between us that still exists today. At that point in my life, there was no place I would rather have been. I loved it.

Concordia, Concordia, Our own Texas college dear,
Reminds us of the days we love as we serve throughout the years;
Concordia, Concordia, your towering logo lifts our eyes,
To higher ways and brighter days ‘neath God’s gracious Texas skies.
Purple and white, our colors we raise at the dawning of every new day.
Our hearts unite in the service we share for our Lord who shows us the way.
Say it softly, say it loudly, say it often, say it proudly:
Concordia, Concordia our own Texas college dear.
~ “Concordia” words & music by Fred Frehleng

Concordia chapel circa about 1980. Photo credit: CLC alumnus Penny B.

Concordia chapel circa about 1980. Photo credit: CLC alumnus Penny Bottazzi Zalaback

As a pre-seminary student I majored in General Studies. Concordia was best known at that time for graduating young men prepared to enroll in seminary and young adults prepared to teach elementary school. We also graduated business majors, Mexican-American studies majors, and Communications majors. We had an excellent music program, in which I minored. I played my trumpet in all sorts of venues playing all kinds of music. I sang baritone in the college choir. I participated in worship and music groups that traveled and toured. I am thankful to have studied music under two of the finest Christian musicians I know. Concordia was a small liberal arts college, and from her I received a superb education.

As Concordia’s enrollment increased over the years, she outgrew her campus situated just north of the University of Texas in Austin. After a diligent search, they purchased a former corporate training facility located near Cedar Park northwest of Austin. The old campus was sold to a developer and Concordia celebrated the opening of her new campus in the fall of 2008. I was crushed. The pictures I saw of wrecking balls demolishing the place I had grown to love broke my heart. When I traveled to Austin on business, I always built an hour or so into my schedule so I could walk the campus and greet faculty and staff. As I walked the campus during those return visits the memories of my days at Concordia would come flooding back. I treasured those visits, and now my beloved Concordia had been taken away from me. Like many alumni, I was bitter. More than that, I was angry.

Studtmann Hall, home to CLC's female students, circa about 1980. Photo credit: Alumnus Cathy D.

Studtmann Hall, home to CLC’s female students, circa about 1980. Photo credit: CLC Alumnus Cathy Dugan Evert

Many of us alums vented our anger with one another. We shared it. We talked about how insensitive it was to allow this place that harbored such rich history and so many fond memories to be destroyed. We talked about those beautiful buildings, gone with the swing of a wrecking ball. We talked about losing our sense of home; it felt as if we had been exiled. Our alma mater, by allowing the destruction of our campus, had expatriated us. We felt abandoned and left behind. To be sure, we heard many good things about the new campus. We didn’t care. Our Concordia was gone.

A dear friend and fellow alumnus worked at Concordia during the move. About two years after the move we were chatting about the new campus and I shared with her my feelings of bitterness and anger. No, I hadn’t visited and no, I had no intention of doing so. She told me about the ever-increasing costs to maintain the old buildings, and how Concordia had run out of room to grow for her future. She painted a verbal picture of the beautiful 389 acres Concordia now calls home, 250 of which is dedicated as a nature preserve. She described the flow of the buildings and how they fit so well with Concordia’s mission and sense of community. She related how careful the administration and staff had been to remove and preserve important items from our old campus; some are placed on the new campus and others wait in storage – but they’re there, awaiting just the right spot for display. She told me about many of the faculty who were still actively working on campus and how much they enjoyed seeing alumni visit and discover the new campus. As we talked I realized that Concordia was still very much alive. The sense of community I treasured so much was still completely intact. Concordia hadn’t abandoned me. In my bitterness and anger, I had abandoned her.

One of the many beautiful spots on the campus of Concordia University Texas. Photo credit: DeLisa Slayton Strege

One of the many beautiful spots on the campus of Concordia University Texas. Photo credit: DeLisa Slayton Strege

Not long after that conversation I learned that Concordia was seeking an alumni representative for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I volunteered. Soon after accepting that role I toured the new campus for the first time. The feelings of bitterness and anger were still there to some extent; I couldn’t help that. As I walked the campus with our Director of Alumni Relations I felt a sense of awkwardness, as if I had wandered into somebody else’s home. She told me that enrollment at Concordia University Texas exceeded 2,000 students – and still growing! Over the years, the University had added many degree programs to its offerings. As we walked, I couldn’t help but appreciate the natural beauty of the place. Looking into the faces of the students, I began to see my friends and me as if it were 25 years ago. We peeked into several classrooms. Class sizes were still small and I was pleased to see several familiar faces standing before those assembled to learn. As we walked, my wounds began to heal. Indeed, Concordia had a rich history on her old campus. But I soon realized that her history was ongoing. And I was determined to rejoin her on that journey, as God would have me do so.

Concordia 80's era alumni enjoying fellowship on "The Pier". Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

Concordia 80’s era alumni enjoying fellowship on “The Pier”. Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

As we planned our 80’s era reunion several of my classmates were still bitter and angry over the move. I get it; I understand. I know that feeling all too well. The planning committee decided to host the reunion on Concordia’s campus, hoping that those who joined us would appreciate her beauty and feel the same sense of reconnection I felt on that first tour a few years back. Some expressed disappointment that the reunion was on campus, others were pleased. Based on the smiles and camaraderie over the weekend, I consider the reunion a great success.

God’s gift of Christian friendship is one of His greatest gifts to His children. As we stepped onto campus for the first time together last Friday evening the years melted away. Familiar faces filled the campus’ large deck (called “The Pier”) overlooking the nature preserve. Hugs – big hugs – were exchanged as the years literally melted away. We took great joy in renewing our bonds of friendship with those who were there, and we missed those who couldn’t join us. We parted ways Sunday afternoon with renewed and strengthened Christian friendships. For me, my bond with my Concordia is once again completely intact and stronger than ever.

Concordia alumni enjoying the "Texas Chic" banquet and dance. Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

Concordia alumni enjoying the “Texas Chic” banquet and dance. Photo credit: Concordia University Texas

I treasure my time at Concordia and the education I received there. I treasure the people who I consider lifelong friends, and I look forward to seeing them once again. God has richly blessed me indeed.

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends
~ “Friends” Words by Deborah D Smith; Music by Michael W. Smith>


Concordia offers a terrific education in a Christian environment on her beautiful campus northwest of Austin, Texas. The list of major offerings is rich, including a fully accredited nursing program. Click here to learn more.

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