Our campus had been blessed over the previous week with beautiful spring weather . . . and then winter arrived again (briefly, we hope). The sun and warmth created an easygoing ambiance on campus, and once nice weather returns I anticipate more students will seek the outdoors. I anticipate faculty will too, and we will soon see classes meeting on the green lawns around campus. Inside the Dahl Centennial Union, where our office is located, it will become increasingly quiet as the temperatures warm and students gather outdoors.
I have a great vantage point from my office that looks out over Carlson Stadium, the tennis courts, the Upper Iowa River, and the wind turbine. Today, as the high temperature hits 35 degrees, I don’t see a soul. But I know from experience that this view will change and soon be filled with students studying on the Union patio, engaging in tennis matches, running Dike Road and the prairie, and kayaking down the river. To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, nature and Luther have built it, and they will come.
One of my favorite sightings on campus is hammocks hanging in the trees. I have noticed a marked increase of hammocks during my time at Luther, and I always appreciate seeing students find ways to make the best use of them. Besides those in the images below, I have also observed a student whose hammock effectively formed a cocoon for napping between the trees. On warm sunny days, perhaps there is no better place to be! There are times I want to grab my hammock and laptop, head outdoors, and create an outdoor office.
Aside from offering wonderful weather, April is also the season of preparing for transitions. Students are now registering for fall semester classes. The room-draw process continues as students identify where they will be living on campus next year. Current seniors marked some of their “last” experiences with course registration in the fall and room draw last spring. This series of “lasts” will continue through May, when they submit their last paper, take their last final exam, and experience their last nights on campus and in Decorah. But we know they are also experiencing and preparing for a number of new “firsts.”
For current first-year students, with their first year of college winding down, the sophomore year awaits. How do they prepare for this transition? What are their expectations? How has the first year propelled them toward continued success?
First-year students have experienced profound change as they’ve learned more about themselves, how community works, and how different ideas intersect within the classroom and beyond. Some have stepped fully into the experience and have made great connections. Others are developing plans to be more intentional about how they use their time during the sophomore year. With a highly engaged campus, many students work to find the right balance between all the activities they do and being well enough to do them.
Whatever stage a student is at, support systems are in place to help them to discover their options, make wise decisions, and continue to prepare for life and careers.