Matt Smith sat toward the front of Reardon Auditorium on Tuesday morning as Anderson University began its 91st academic year.
He listened as James Edwards, the university’s president, told students how building projects are changing the landscape of campus. Edwards encouraged students to follow the three-word theme of the year: root, grow bloom.
And while Smith, a junior, acknowledged that it was an exciting time to be at the school, he downplayed the significance of a new school year, saying, “It’s pretty routine for me at this point.”
He was looking beyond the first day. The business and Bible major was eager to see the student worship service he leads expand in the coming year, and he was glad that as an upperclassman he can take a more challenging course load.
“It’s more fun,” he said. “I actually get to learn stuff that matters.”
In his speech, Edwards said the university is taking a hard look at how it can better fulfill its goals. A major part of that is the construction projects under way, including renovations to residence halls and an ongoing fundraising campaign for new buildings, including a student center that this year’s freshmen should see complete before they graduate.
The campaign has raised more than $86 million, Edwards announced, and the university expects to reach its $110 million goal by spring 2010.
The hour-long chapel service included moments of song and prayer. Faculty members sat on stage wearing academic robes. Carl Caldwell, vice president of academic affairs, introduced nine new faculty members starting in departments throughout the university.
Such chapel services are a mainstay of AU campus life. Held twice a week, many services focus on fellowship while some involve guest speakers from outside the school.
“It’s a wonderful thing that a university start her academic year with chapel,” Edwards said. “It is becoming rare, and we intend to hold on to it, I ensure you.”
Freshman roommates Sadie Kennedy and Kayla Brown said it was nice to finally experience their first of many chapel services. After meeting during orientation, they decided to become roommates because both of them are nursing majors.
That means they have similar classes, too. Both 19-year-olds are taking a diverse course load ranging from physiology to a course on romantic love where they will read “Jane Eyre” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
Brown said she’s interested in joining the campus swing dancing club, and both women said they plan to participate in campus community service and fellowship organizations.
“Where I come from, I didn’t go to church every Sunday,” Kennedy said. “This is a good time for me to connect with God and get involved.”
That’s exactly what Edwards told students he hoped they’d do. The theme of the year, illustrated with banners in the auditorium showing the silhouette of a blossoming tree and its root system, signifies the personal growth that the university wants students to experience while part of the school, he said.
“So put down roots,” Edwards told the students. “Grow where you’re planted and bloom in your time. My word to you this morning is: Now is your time.”
Anderson University 2008-09 academic calendar
- 18 Homecoming
- 24 Mid-fall holiday
- 26 Thanksgiving vacation begins
- 1 Classes resume
- 18 Last day of the semester
—Barrett Newkirk is a reporter for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.