There is an energy on the Ole Miss campus that persists, no matter what.
That’s one of the many observations I’ve pondered as a newcomer to this campus.
I’m in my third year as a university employee, and I’m a “12-monther.” That means I’m in my office year-round — except for paid holidays, two weeks vacation — the standard drill.
And it distinguishes me from “nine-monthers” who serve in faculty roles. When there are no students around, they, for the most part, are not around either.
It also means I get to see the campus filled far beyond capacity, as it was when the Texans, their longhorn and a very impressive football team visited.
And it means I get to see the campus on winter days immediately after Christmas when, as I’ve said, I could go squirrel hunting in the Grove and no one would know (at least until a shotgun blast resonated through the stillness).
My habit is to be on campus about seven each morning, and I usually leave about six. There are times when I’m the only soul in Farley Hall.
And there are times when I’m one of 500 or more. There are times I can look out from my window and see the Oxford-University Transit driver making his rounds alone. And there are times when the bus has standing room only.
What never changes, though, is that basic vibrancy. It emanates from the trees, the sidewalks, the classroom and the dorm buildings.
So many generations.
My father spent time in graduate school here, as did his father. I’m told his father’s father, who was from Pontotoc, was dispatched to Oxford with his school needs strapped to a horse and that a hired man walked the 25 miles with him. Why send the hired man? To ride the horse back to Pontotoc. Maybe freshmen weren’t allowed to have horses on campus?
There are countless university campuses across the nation, around the world. There are countless places where there are trees, sidewalks, workplaces and residential buildings in close proximity. But bursting at the seams, at capacity, almost empty or flat-out deserted; Ole Miss has a steady aura.
The simple observation is that this is a special place, a place hallowed by people who sense that the world can be better, can do better, and who are committed to gain knowledge and experiences to help them be effective contributors.