A New U With A Bad Old Song


The new Mount Mercy logo.

I don’t mean “bad” too pejoratively. The “Alma Mater” will never be remade as a disco hit, and it serves its function—a song full of earnest longing that is easy to belt out at top volume. It’s bad in the sense that good things are “bad.”

I’m on a mission to get the faculty to always sing the Alma Mater LOUDLY. I belted it out at Founder’s Day today, and Dr. Mary Vermillion, an English professor, told me I have a nice voice.

She’s such as sweetheart, even if she is probably lying.

Anyway, Founder’s Day at Mount Mercy was different today. The afternoon ceremony followed an even bigger one this morning, as the former college marked its official transition to “Mount Mercy University.”

Erich Pilcher, Multi-Media Producer for the Mount Mercy Times, with his camera frames Dr. Chris Blake, MMU President, during today's offically renaming ceremony.

I am a bit overwhelmed with work at the moment—with Jon’s wedding and my workshop in Nashville, the summer flew by way too quickly, and I have way too much to do to get ready for class. Yet, I also feel energized.

I know it was hoopla, but today was legit hoopla noting an important moment, and it felt good to be a part of the Mount Mercy University family this Monday.

Even the weather cooperated. It was quite warm, but compared to the stiflingly hot and humid days we’ve had this summer, not so bad.

Random reactions to this special day:

  • Some thought the trumpet fanfare a bit much. Maybe, but it was an immediate attention grabber and an unexpected flourish, so I say it worked. Elephants and litter bearers—that would have been too much. Maybe we should have had a few rose petals strewn about before the procession of dignitaries …
  • Ground is broken. What an odd ritual, why is this always the symbolic "build something" moment? For that matter, when it's done, why is a ribbon always cut? Well, at least Sister Kathy can sling some dirt. Maybe she should have been a journalist.

    The new logo is nice. See the photo at the top of this blog post. I like the way “Mercy” stands out, the Mercy Cross is an iconic image of the Sisters of Mercy, and, even if it’s in smaller point size than the word “Mercy,” “University” still stands out at the base of the little hill formed by the logo. And everyone who knows Mount Mercy knows the subtle hill image stands for something.

  • The unfurling of the logo on McAuley Hall was another nice touch. Didn’t ask Erich yet if he caught it on video for the “Mount Mercy Times,” which has an on-line TV news presence, but I hope so. Anyway, I did catch some images of the process, as you can see.
  • My wives were in rare form, today. Both Audrey, to whom I am married, and Anne King, who played the role of “mom” in a prayer service when I was “dad,” were teasing me a lot today. I think they were at least a little jazzed up by the U hoopla, too.

In the end, the name change means something only if a lot of other pieces fall into place. I hope that Mount Mercy University can attract a much larger freshman class. I don’t mind 80 new nursing students—I just want 120 other students, too. It’s a tough era for small private institutions of higher learning, but on the other hand, the other U in our neighborhood, named after the state, has a record freshman class this year. I bet not all are from Iowa, which means many are paying tuition not all that different from MMU’s rates.

May we find ways to capture more of those students.

But that’s an ongoing effort, and one that I think may already be on the right track, as MMU has a pretty dynamic head of admissions. For now, it’s enough to enjoy new U day, and look forward to two more days of celebration and feasting.

Many more of my new U photos on Facebook.

Anne King and Audrey Sheller before Founder's Day in the afternoon. Anne King was "mom" when I was "dad" in an opening day Mass Sunday, and Audrey and I were actually married 28 years ago.

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1 Comment

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One response to “A New U With A Bad Old Song

  1. Cate

    Joe! You posted a lovely picture of Audrey smiling! That’s almost as rare as a smiling Ben picture.

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