The Old Alma Mater in Our Time at OWU

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20201015 Fall Campus

WPCNR Letter Ticker. By John F. Bailey November 29, 2020.

Editor’s Note: A lot has changed at my college, Ohio Wesleyan University, that I graduated from 53 years ago. I often have nightmares of having papers due still. Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and Dr Ruth Davies one of the greatest influences in my life.

I have memories of my days on WSLN, 91.1 FM, Play-By Play with Jim Whitman from the upper deck in old Edwards Gym. Doing halftime interviews on the court with the mike dropped down from the upper deck. Remote live broadcasts from Pittsburgh and Lexington and all over Ohio; doing sports on Saturday night on the Tom Mahoney (what a voice) Show Impromptu! and later with the notorious deejay Rick Sellers on his Best Sellers Show; hosting Perspective 66 on Saturday mornings and sneaking in a rock and roll top 40 song once in a while and taping interviews to fill the time hauling the heavy old reel-to-reel Ampex Tape Machine. I loved radio.

And of course great radio listening in the midnight hour to WCOL 1230 in Columbus, Ohio “1230 the new WCOL…..LLLLL”, and at night WLS (“In ChiCAAA-GO!”) and learning the Motown Sound from the Motor City (“The BiIIIIIIIGGGG 8!–CKL-WUUUUUU!”)

There was News Directing with Skip L’Heureaux, our documentary Drug Probe he and I did together, interviewing David Brinkley; and of course the loyal WSLN newscasters, Diane Carell and Paul Lucas who never missed a 30-minute newscast, and not to forget Sportscaster Laurie LeCompte. I also thank Rick Billingham host of Folkscene, now a surgeon who introduced me to folk music.

And of course, I met the love of my life: the United Press International News Ticker. I loved the sound of the relentless clack clack clack it made you feel alive. It still does. There were the hilarious typos, (“6 inches of new snot fell this morning.”

Those were the days, my friends at the college radio station shack on the campus where I did sports play-by-play and news but never followed the news interest up until 33 years after I graduated.

I have given to the college because it was a place that taught me not to give up, finish that paper, get it in by midnight and gave me the magic of being on the air. Now I go on the air out of love.

OWU’s Gray Chapel was black with soot when I attended, but a few years ago the college sandblasted it to an autumnal brown, which I was stunned to see and thought was awful when I drove through Delaware taking my daughter to college. Things change but the university should not.

But the point of this nostalgia is the alumni letter I received this week, which instead of dwelling on how bad covid is making the college experience and the whining from colleges consistently making bad decisions on how they reopen, described the campus environment at Ohio Wesleyan this fall. He forgot two restaurants..the L & K where you could walk to get a cheeseburger after midnight, and of course, Bun’s Restaurant for breakfast. Very reminiscent of White Plains City Limits.

The upbeat “we can do this,” attitude that the university instilled in me by some mysterious spirit and my own mistakes mastered is an example of how to handle adversity and all the activities, people, places I did, met and went that opened me up to the world.

I received a splendid letter this week, which crystalized this exerience as no other alumni letter has. Jim Pry, Class of ’67, pointed out an Ohio Wesleyan Alumni initiative, that any college would do well to consider and draw on because it explains in simple terms, the real enrichment of the college experience and service offers and college commitment to reaching out to fix a problem.

If you are a graduate of a college that really changed your life, this letter should motivate you to give to that school, because they need you now. Here is that letter from Ohio Wesleyan Graduate Jim Pry ’67:

Dear John,

What a year! It sounds clichéd, but I don’t think any of us could have predicted, a year ago, all that 2020 would bring. From adjusting to wearing masks, to suddenly social distancing from loved ones, to the increased visibility of the fight for racial equality, and more, we’ve all experienced unprecedented changes this year.

I hope that you, like me, have leaned on your Ohio Wesleyan community during this time, whether via Zoom gatherings or phone calls with friends, or by attending some of the many virtual events OWU has hosted since March.

When thinking back on our time on campus, it’s hard to imagine the impact of 2020 on the OWU experience. Some of my favorite OWU memories include hanging out at the Brown Jug, dam parties, a greasy hamburger at Hamburger Inn, Wilson’s,  C.J. of course, having your date back at the girls dorm by 11 p.m., and the lights blinking off and on.

This fall, students are attending class remotely or wearing masks and sitting at least 6 feet apart (and sometimes in tents!). Extracurricular meetings and events are limited in size and scope, and students and staff have to think creatively about how to maintain essential connections.

Student athletes are still practicing, though not competing this fall, and are adjusting to playing in masks and rigorous cleaning procedures.

Students are persevering, though, because they value the OWU experience and the opportunity to be on campus at a time when so many schools have been forced to close their campuses.

COVID-19 has presented major challenges for Ohio Wesleyan, as costs to safely reopen the physical campus are substantial. Additionally, many OWU students and their families were affected financially and continue to face hardships due to the pandemic, so the University has seen a significant increase in emergency financial aid requests.

Simply put, Ohio Wesleyan needs our support.  

I hope you agree that the value of the residential liberal arts experience that Ohio Wesleyan provides is worth our investment.Your support of the OWU Annual Giving Program will make an immediate impact on today’s students and help the University continue to work toward a safer tomorrow.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to give back to OWU for all it has given us, and to support a safe, transformative OWU experience for today’s students.Our class goal is to raise $120,000 with gifts from at least 110 donors.

I hope you’ll consider joining me in honoring the Class of 1967 with your gift today. 

Gratefully,Jim Pry ’67
  • Reprinted with permission of Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio

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