The sun was shining down as I prepared, after my last class Friday afternoon, to board a shuttle bus.
Mount Mercy University was officially opening the CRST International Graduate Center, the old National Guard Armory on Wenig Road, and I wanted to attend to show support and take care of any spare snacks that might be lying around. Plus, I was mildly hoping there would be beer.
The shuttle ride there was shorter than I expected. I sometimes ride more than halfway there along J Avenue headed from MMU to the bike trail, and I didn’t realize how close I have been to the National Guard Armory that is now part of MMU.
Well, good and bad things happened at the ceremony, far more good than bad, by the way. The good: The center looked great, it was a happy occasion for MMU, it was nice to hear from and honor the major donors, and there were meatballs. The bad: No beer. But there was also shrimp and spinach spread, so no more bellyaching about beer from me, just a bellyache from too many meatballs.
I missed part of the ceremony due to my late arrival, but got to see most of it. The speeches before the ribbon cutting were OK—and I most enjoyed hearing The Most Rev. Michael Jackels, who I had not seen before. The new Archbishop of Dubuque makes a good first impression.
By the way, why do we cut a ribbon at events like this? I think it would be more fun to have the chamber ambassadors and donors run through a big circle of paper, ala a high school football prep rally, but that’s just me.
John Smith, Chair of the Board of CRST International, and his wife Dyan were honored for their generous support—as they should have been. They helped MMU turn the former National Guard Armory into a very nice graduate school building.
On the other hand, the ceremony was followed by a lecture by John Smith. His formal presentation left me with mixed feelings. It was interesting to hear him recount his career, and he did give a big plug for a liberal arts education, which I was glad to hear. However, the way in which his company went non-union in the 1970s, and how it might eliminate drivers through computer technology in the coming decade—well, those points left me with feelings that were decidedly mixed.
As a liberal Democrat, I squirmed a bit when this conservative Republican was speaking about those changes, and also when he noted how he hates taxes. Me, I think a corporate leader could appreciate paying taxes so that there is a robust safety net for all of us who toil for owners rather than own.
Well. Aren’t I suddenly grumpy? Guess I needed the beer after all.
Anyway, I don’t want to appear even the tiniest bit ungrateful to the Smiths. They’ve done a lot for an institution that I love. I bet that there is at least one thing we do agree on, and that is the importance of education for our society, and it’s to their credit that they have expressed their views on that importance in such a tangible way. I’m very glad that they have been motivated to support Mount Mercy and its graduate programs.
So, thank you, John and Dyan Smith. We see the world very differently. But you’ve seen fit to support MMU. So, whatever we might disagree on, let me also say: Bravo. Kudos. Cheers. And I hope you enjoyed the meatballs.
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