I’ve been at Skyline for four and a half years. That’s way too long. As a result, though, I’ve gotten to share in on one of the secret pleasures usually only the senior faculty get to see. I’ve watched this campus change, for better, and for worse.
Skyline has been nothing but a success story for me. I had no direction or drive when I took my placement test one foggy Saturday afternoon. Within a year, something reached out and gave me a nudge. When I nudged back, I got a push. So I pushed further And so on. Without knowing it at the time, one of the signature features of the Skyline campus had left it’s mark on me. The atmosphere, then, encouraged me. There were no closed doors. Everyone I bumped into turned out to be a sign post with a smile. With my own two feet, I followed those signs to where I’m at today. There was no bullshit in my way, no stress outside of my fight for grades, and it was great.
Four years later, it has become harder to find that feeling on campus. We certainly have more people, and the resources to guide students to the places they’re supposed to want to go have only upgraded. But somewhere in the progression, something significant got lost. A torch not passed, perhaps snuffed then re-lit.
I’ve tried to place my finger directly on the source, but can’t. Many of the faculty that once defined my campus back then are gone: Deamer, Westfall and Harer, to name a few. But then, many are still going strong, such as Case, Bowsher and Freedman. The students have certainly changed, but goals and ambitions are still the same. The classrooms have just as many bright-eyed achievers as wash-out dreamers, as many slide-by schemers as straight-laced believers.
From my time serving behind the scenes, both through my involvement around student government and learning programs, I’ve directly felt the bureaucratic shift in the winds. Ever since the big academic assessment two years ago, all of the “i”s are being dotted and the “t”s crossed. Programs had to redefine themselves in legalese, which put the clamps on the practices of an awesome lot of people who might have been overly comfortable with the way things were. At the same time, an awful lot of new faces pop up on each semester’s “New Staff and Faculty” list. Certainly this is a symptom of a successful college expanding, but I have to wonder if the supersaturation of new blood doesn’t dilute the strength of what had been before.
Maybe it’s nothing. Certainly only those who linger too long would even be able to feel the differences, and to linger isn’t the purpose of a community college. Students and teachers are still coming and going through Skyline at a measurably consistent pace. As long as a fresh batch of grads walk across the stage every spring, a shift in atmosphere from year to year is all a part of the plan.
By Nick Major
TSV Staff Writer