A Long, Hot Summer on Campus


Scott D. Miller, the President of Virginia Wesleyan University, has written a guest column for the Virginian-Pilot with the same title as this post.

After providing an overview of what a university president’s summer routine typically involves, he writes: “Then there’s this summer — which to me is exceptionally hot, volatile, uncertain. The atomic particles in and around higher education seem as super-charged as those up in the clouds over my home on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Ocean View.”

In the next several paragraphs, he discusses the political uncertainty that characterizes almost every election year and has especially characterized this very volatile election year. He then discusses the impact of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules on how colleges and universities function—which, frankly, seems a somewhat odd thing to focus upon unless university staff are routinely working more than 40-hour weeks and not being compensated for the extra hours. In that case, it would seem to me that the employees have much more to complain about—more of a basis for feeling aggrieved—than the leaders of their institutions who, in most cases, can make the case that they are underpaid only by comparing themselves selectively to their peers.

But at this point in the column, Miller seems to shift gears and to rise abruptly to a considerably higher level of eloquence:

“The violence in our country and around the world is making us feel insecure. On humid mornings much too often this summer, the flags outside my office have fluttered at half staff. For colleges, the challenge is multi-faceted. We must keep our campuses safe yet open to the social and intellectual commerce that contributes so much to our vibrancy.

“Just as important is ensuring that our students are not desensitized, that they celebrate the diversity and freedom that the forces of hate or insanity seek to destroy, and that they embrace the perspective of history in learning from the tragedies of today.

“My long, hot summer also drives home the disruption in our natural environment. Whatever the cause, global climate change is upon us. The students and faculty who will occupy the new Greer Environmental Sciences Center on our campus will have plenty to do in analyzing the causes and evaluating the outcomes of global climate change and, locally, the threat of rising sea levels.

“As with so many of the urgent issues of the day, colleges and universities are expected increasingly to host discussions and propose solutions. I look forward to doing so in partnership with other institutions in our area.”


Scott D. Miller’s entire article is available at: http://pilotonline.com/opinion/columnist/guest/scott-miller-a-long-hot-summer-on-campus/article_41fd98a2-2032-5b57-8d9f-05ea66f136c8.html.



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