Friday, January 11, 2008

Where'd they go?

Every now and then I peruse the web pages of my alma mater, mostly for nostalgic reasons, but also to check out the latest goings on in Ye Olde Salt Mines. It's always kewl to see pictures from the latest departmental seminar or poster sessions featuring graduate students from my class, grads who joined while I was still there, and of course to see how things are going with the senior faculty - rejoicing over announcements regarding grants, awards, etc.

Today when I browsed the department pages, however, it dawned on me that things have changed dramatically since I attended. Obviously this has been going on for quite some time, but I have either ignored it, or it has just slipped below my radar, so to speak. Now I hardly know any of the grad students there (less than ten) - by and large my peeps ain't there no more. My class has either graduated - moved on to greener pastures - or they have fallen along the way. That last sentence sounded more like a war metafor than I intended, but the truth of the matter is that grad school ain't for everyone, and it's not exactly a 1:1 ratio between the headcounts in the incoming and graduating classes. I even know of one campus legend (whassup, Bill?) who dropped out after one and a half semester to become a used car salesman (CarMax). Even a significant fraction of the faculty members have relocated, including my former co-advisor, for cripes' sakes.

Of course, the fact that things have changed since I moved on is unequivocally a good thing, seeing as how the department would've been pretty damn stagnant otherwise. Still, my connection to this particular institution is progressively weakened as the number of familiar faces dwindles. Fact of the matter is that now I'd probably have to go searching for familiar faces if I walked through the Sacred Halls of Dabney (and not only because the group I used to belong to has relocated to another campus). But such is the transient nature of relationships rooted in graduate school, or institutions of higher learning in general.

In honor of my alma mater, here are some pics from campus.

Any self-respecting US campus (as well as a bunch of second-rate ones) have a Bell Tower. That's just the way it is in dis heah parts, ya heah.

The entrance to Cox Hall - Dabney Hall being the building on the left. Where Marye-Ann Fox, former science advisor for then-governor of Texas, now Dubs, used to reside. But screw that - it is still the professional home of a certain Professor Jerry Whitten, who provides a direct lineage to Oppenheimer himself. Much respect.

Dabney Hall, where I have spent innumerable hours, some of which spent just hanging out on the balconies of the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th floors watching the sunset with Joe and waiting for some experiment to be done.

The new Harrelson Hall, where the soda machine was located, and which provided shelter for many a thunder storm. Also the building outside which I stood when WT2 was hit on 9/11.

Riddick Laboratories, the first building on campus me and my wife got to see the inside of when we arrived stateside. Later, we both got to see a LOT more of this place.

One view of Hillsborough Street, seen from the D.H. Hill Library. Hillsborough - THE place to go to for lunch, to find faculty members hobnobbing and plotting scientific world domination, or to get some of that sweet, sweet Starbucks version of caffeinated motivation, sorely needed when two months of experiments have gone to hell in a handbasket. Just don't stray too far in the direction of downtown (left in the picture, that is) unless you're packin' some serious heat.

Hey Joe - have you heard that there's this new band out now? It's called Widowmaker, and it's fronted by Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. Rumors have it that this is the kind of band we'll be hearing about in 20 years, like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.

*End monster inside joke*


Anders said...

Not that I know anything about the place, or feeling particular nostalgic right now, but I think those a great pictures. Cool to see a nice looking University for once. Unlike most of the Norwegian ones...

Wilhelm said...

Whaddya mean; you're sayin' that Nygårdsparken ain't the ideal campus green area?

Anders said...

I wrote unlike most Norwegian Universities. Of course the science building in Bergen is a real looker and Nygårdsparken is an ideal campus, especially for the chemist/ pharmasist student. I wouldn't dream of suggesting anything else... :-D

Wilhelm said...

So you're saying that the pharmacy study in Bergen is actually rockin' and rollin'? What kind of student numbers they got?

Anders said...

I have no idea 'bout how much rock'n'roll going on at the pharmacy dep. in Bergen.