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9:46 a.m. - August 25, 2006
Let's Form A Committee!
The academic year at the college has started, and with that there is a flurry of activity on campus. The students are eagerly bustling about, as the freshmen are looking for their classrooms and also making sure that they go to class lest any upperclassmen in their fraternity spot them skipping out (which could lead to repercussions).

Yes, it’s fall time here at Wabash. And yes, our students are very eager to learn. Being an all-male school, the students really focus on their academic work during the week. Fraternities take pride (well, most of them) in how well their GPA is on campus, with some houses having a 3.0 or better house GPA. In my junior year at college, the Delts (my fraternity) won the Intramural Championship, finished second in GPA, and had two of the best parties on campus that year (Heaven and Hell and Deltona Beach). I wish I had my Heaven and Hell t-shirt still – it featured Opus and Bill the Cat.

Oh, digression, the hallmark of Smed.

The faculty members are eager to get back to teaching as well. During the summer they work on their individual research projects, many times teaming up with students, but during the school year the focus is on teaching. Since there are no grad students about, the professors all teach, and many of them are at Wabash because of their love of teaching and interaction with the students.

We have a new administration this year, as we have replaced our Treasurer, Dean of the College, and President. This could be a shock to the system. Wabash moves at a glacial pace, as it is full of traditions. Of course, the joke is that if something is done two years in a row, it’s a tradition, and if it’s done three years in a row, “It’s always been done here at Wabash!”

Traditions change of course. When I was in school, the phrase “TWR” meant something. It stood for “Typical Wabash Refreshment”, so on Fridays one of the fraternities would hold an all campus bash with a keg and all they’d have to say is “TGIF – FIJI – 4:00 – TWR” and everyone would come with their cups.

But the use of the phrase TWR has totally stopped, sadly.

The new administration hasn’t dimmed what I think is the most intriguing day around here – the day that the various committees are formed and published to the faculty and staff.

No, seriously.

This is a small school. The faculty and staff are around 250 people, for 875 or so students. Yet the list of committees is insane. By my count there are 51 committees on campus.

This doesn’t even count the other groups that meet around campus.

There are academic committees, of course. There is a committee on Academic Policy, Curriculum Appeals, Agenda, Budget, Faculty Development, Financial Aid, GLCA Academic Council (the GLCA is a group of liberal arts colleges in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan), and College Life.

There are committees on Admissions, Athletics, Gender Issues (yes, at an all male school!), Graduate Fellowships, Lecture Series (Planning), Lecture Series (Implementation), Multicultural Concerns, Off Campus Study, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Health Sciences, Pre-Law, Teacher Education, and Teaching and Learning.

But wait, there’s more. There are committees on Animal Welfare, Accreditation, the Business Sequence, the College Film Series, Community Service, Cultures and Traditions (which is a course that all sophomores must take – it involves a lot of reading and discussion and it’s pretty heady stuff), Dill Internships, Fine Arts Fellowships, Freshman Tutorials (each freshman must take a tutorial about one subject that is of interest to him), Fringe Benefits, Honorary Degrees, Human Research, the Ides of August (when the professors show off their summer research), International Studies, Integrated Marketing, the Lilly Scholarships, the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Scholarships, the Rogge Fund, Safety, Scientific Integrity, Student Insurance, Technology, the Celebration of Undergraduate Research, Wellness, Visiting Artist Series (Planning), and Visiting Artist Series (Implementation).

As you see, there are separate committees for the planning and implementation when we bring in guests to lecture or perform. It’s like they say, “Here you go, we planned it, now you run with it and you’re just going to have to live with what we planned. Mwah-hah-hah!”

But with all of these committees, you would wonder how anything would get done on campus.

Well, I haven’t told you the most important committee of them all.

The Committee on Committees.

Yes, it’s true, Dilbert fans – there is a Committee on Committees.

From what I see, they appoint members to several of the aforemented committees, but really.

If you have that labyrinthine of an organization that you need a Committee on Committees, then you may want to look at your organization.

No, wait, that committee is a tradition, and we don’t want to change traditions. Well, that is, unless they change themselves.


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