Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back to class for Baker

August 24, 2006

New year. New president.

But, the same old bag pipes on campus at Baker University.

Students and faculty members settled into the first day of classes Wednesday on the Baldwin campus and were treated to melodies from a Great Highland bagpipe.

University leaders have hired the musicians to play during special occasions and the first day of classes for 20 years.

"It definitely adds to the atmosphere. Some freshmen don't know what to make of it though," said Ben Mejia, an Olathe senior.

"The pipes are uplifting. It makes you want to put a little spring in your step," said Dorothy May, of Kansas City St. Andrew Pipes and Drums, who played solo for part of the morning and afternoon.

Baker students, faculty and staff had prepared for Wednesday's start during the last few weeks by moving in new students and welcoming the old ones back to campus. University spokesman Steve Rottinghaus said the Baldwin campus had 928 students enrolled -- up from 902 on the first day of 2005.

New president Pat Long, who was out of state Wednesday at a meeting, has been busy the last few weeks welcoming students and meeting faculty and staff. Long, a former deputy chancellor for university communications at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has replaced longtime president Dan Lambert.

Long said a new semester energizes the campus. She also has tried to pass along a message to the incoming class.

"I'm part of your class. I'm a freshman here, too. I'm learning the traditions, too," Long said.

MarKayecq Strickland, a freshman softball player from Pearland, Texas, started her college career Wednesday morning with visual learning and biology classes. It's a been a crazy last week for her after moving into a dormitory, saying good-bye to her parents and boyfriend and meeting throngs of new people.

"I'm expecting a lot of homework, so I just need to do it and take care of business," said Strickland, who plans to major in pre-medicine.

Adjunct computer science professor Anna Kasl, of McLouth, taught her first class on the campus Wednesday. She planned to hand out the syllabus and make an assignment due Friday for students in an introductory course.

"I love teaching, so I think it's pretty exciting," Kasl said.

Others were less enthusiastic about returning to class.

"It doesn't really make any difference to me because I'm trying to get done," said Derrick Solomon, a senior business major from Cleveland, Texas.

Tim Haynes, a Lawrence junior, awoke early for a 7:30 a.m. college algebra class.

"I would have liked another couple of weeks of vacation mostly, but I think the next week will be a lot better because I will be getting back into the school schedule and meeting a bunch of new people," Haynes said.

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