As I write this, it’s Thanksgiving. It’s a day each Midland almumna or alumnus is either on campus in the joyful swirl of students, friends, and family, or somewhere far afield, thinking back on their days as a student. I have a very personal reason to always think of Midland on Thanksgiving – it’s the anniversary of my marriage to my wife Ulrika, in Midland’s chapel, presided over by Carl Munger. So I’m more thankful than most on this day, and I’m very aware how lucky I have been in my life.
Midland’s relationship to its alumni has always been strong. Uniquely so – many friends have shaken their heads in amazement if the topic of my wedding comes up. They’re befuddled – in a good-natured way – as to why I would have wanted to be married at Midland, with my headmaster officiating, and my wife willing to indulge me in my folly. I can only tell them, it seemed the right thing to do.
There is something about Midland that always calls its sons and daughters back. I hope I’m not alone in thinking so.
So why am I telling you all this? Odds are, you’re an alumnus or alumna, and you already know how strong Midland’s pull is. It’s because I have an idea – and I hope you can help. Right now, Midland has two annual events for alumni – Thanksgiving and Alumni Weekend. I think there should be opportunities for more engagement between the alumni and the school than that.
What I see is a largish cabin, similar to the ones in the Whitter Quad. Maybe there are two rooms, maybe there are four. They’re similar to student rooms – a closet, beds, a desk. They’re meant to house alumni who come back to campus. No more than a week a year. First come, first served – which probably means a reservation list. Built by alums, or by students and alums together.
Basically, I think there should be a way for alumni/ae to stay overnight on campus using something other than a tent. I’ll freely concede this is a want, not a need. I’m thinking I’m not the only alum who would like to come back to Midland for more than a day trip, and stay on campus, but my bones are creaky enough there’s a barrier. One that doesn’t (dare I say) need to be there, if we’re willing to pitch in together.
The advantages would go two ways. Having the chance to strengthen alumni/ae ties through staying overnight could well lead to increased donations to the school. Interactions in Stillman between students and alums could give those students a sense of what’s possible, and the breadth of life experiences Midland’s sons and daughters have had. Perhaps there could even be a chance for an alum or two to be a guest speaker for a class, as a way of singing for their supper, though that should probably be purely voluntary.
When Ulrika and I were married, Carl would talk about giving him something, something crafted by each of us, as part of the exchange between himself as officiant at our ceremony and ourselves. “A stone for his garden,” he called it. I was working on a black and white photo of a sculpture made by Ulrika. I didn’t get off the stick fast enough to get it to him before he died. What I’d like to do instead is this: Let’s call this project Munger House.
I know myself well enough to know that while I’m good at imagining things, and seeing possibilities, I’m not so great at implementing and building things. So can you help me? Can you help the school? Can you help your fellow alums? Do you think this is a project worth building in wood and steel, in hope and fellowship, in dollars and cents?
I very much hope you do.