I have been on this campus for the first day of classes every semester for the last 14 years. I've shared it with over 50,000 students. I've watched two football coaches, three basketball coaches, and two baseball coaches come and go. I've met wide eyed 18 year olds who are excited but nervous about their college experience, gotten to know them and tried to help them, and then cried when I saw them walk across the stage at commencement. This campus gave me my husband, my education, my career and so many of my dearest friends. I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 hours in my office, working for the school that I love so much. The U of A is a part of who I am. And after Friday, for the first time in my adult life, I will be looking at it from the outside.
Tomorrow my office is holding a going away party for me. People keep asking me if I'm excited to be so close to staying at home, and oh, I am, I AM. I don't think I'll miss my schedule, or probably even most of the work I do. But I will miss the place. And the people...that's why the party will be so hard for me. It's another topic entirely--that's why this is only Part 1.