From the desk of Ben Schears
Recently, I found myself crawling around the upper floor of Ireland Hall (the old High School) in search of an old desk that I might be able to restore for an auction held during our annual Duck Dash event. There were many to choose from, and I eventually selected one that had been used back around the 1950s whose wooden seat and table top was in good shape, and whose cast iron legs would be able to be refinished with a little bit of elbow grease.
As I began lightly cleaning the top of the desk, careful to keep the scrawlings and etched graffiti intact, I couldn’t help wonder who sat in this seat? I was curious about what it must have been like to be among the small class of individuals who walked through our classroom doors in 1922 and sat on a seat similar to the one I was holding. How did it feel to know you were among the first students? If they could see our hallways and classrooms today, what would they think about the institution we have become 90 years later?
Gone are the old slate chalkboards and dusty erasers, long since replaced by smartboards, dryerase, and virtual lectures. Old wooden classroom desks lined in perfect order have given way to workstations, tables, and online collaboration. Although the infusion of technology has changed the way classrooms look and feel (and in many ways have simply adapted to today’s learning styles), I am convinced one thing has remained unwavering since our very first class; students still possess a strong desire to learn and our instructors are still committed to high academic achievement. You may have heard Cowley College was recently honored to be among the top-four percent of community and technical colleges in the nation in the percentage of our students graduating and/or transferring to the university level. With 786 colleges in the country evaluated, we placed 30th in student success – a spectacular feat and one we feel holds true to the standards our founders and students set 90 years ago.
Looking ahead, I rest easy knowing as long as the desire to learn burns in the hearts of our students, we will remain a thriving and successful college.
Ben Schears Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cowley College