Friday, May 4, 2012

Support the "Dr. Mark C. Lewis Closet of Tears"

First, some background. Trinity is building a new science facility. It is called the "Center for Science and Innovation", CSI. You can watch the construction online. This is a huge upgrade to the campus, and the new building will house Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Psychology, Neuroscience, Entrepreneurship, and most importantly, Computer Science.

On Thursday, 5/3, I went to a meeting up in the President's office with a bunch of people who were much better dressed than I was. At this meeting faculty representatives from the different departments described how the new building is going to make a huge positive impact on how they work. The really well dressed people need that information so they can try to raise funds for the building.

From Computer Science, the biggest benefit of this move is just that we get pulled into the center of campus, and will be far more visible than in the past. We will also have beautiful rooms and student spaces. Every one of our classrooms has a wall that is either completely or nearly completely glass. One views the main walkway through the building and the other two have a perfect view out over the center of campus. (Note the big glass section at the far left in the figure above.) There are student areas right outside the row of faculty offices as well as further away for those who want to avoid the faculty. One of those overlooks a large studio area that will be primarily used as an Engineering design space, but which can also be cleared out for me to roller skate through or perhaps for other purposes.

After this meeting I had some final review sessions and I talked to students briefly about the meeting. I mentioned that three long-time faculty of the CS department are retiring this year and how it would be wonderful to have those classroom spaces dedicated to them. My wonderful students, being as caring and considerate as they are, had another suggestion. They said that in honor of my efforts over the brief 11 years I have been at Trinity, I should have a closet dedicated to me.

I was so flattered I had to run with the idea. My inspiration came from an anonymous student who wrote the following on a course evaluation last fall: "Oh dear god. Countless hours of my life spent curled up weeping on the floor ..." To honor this student and so many others like him/her, I felt it was only appropriate to write this blog post asking you to donate money to support the "Dr. Mark C. Lewis Closet of Tears". I would like to see this set aside as a private space where students can go when they have reached their wits end, and have given up all hope of stuffing more information into their brains. Or maybe for those student who are tired of banging their heads against walls searching for solutions to problems they think I picked just because they are unsolvable.

Your donation can not only support the construction of this valuable space. It can also help to pay for appropriate padded materials for the walls, floor, and ceiling. We want to make sure that future students can get out their frustrations and anxiety in a safe, supportive place.

So while you are writing out those big checks for the "Dr. Maurice Eggen Teaching Lab", the "Dr. Gerald Pitts Teaching Lab", or the "Dr. John Howland Teaching Lab" to honor their many decades of service to Trinity and their personal impact on your own education, send a note to Rick Roberts in development at letting him know you want some fraction of that to go to the "Dr. Mark C. Lewis Closet of Tears". It is only appropriate that you should remember the children. Don't make them weep on the hard concrete hallways. Give them a safe place to bang their heads.

Disclaimer: I sincerely hope that anyone who read this far realized this is largely satirical and is actually a request to support the construction of CSI, and hopefully to acknowledge the contributions of Drs. Howland, Pitts, and Eggen. I honestly don't know how tour guides would explain a plaque that includes the text "Closet of Tears". You really should contact Rick Roberts or others in the Development office about plans that are in place and how you might support them.

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