Arkansas State University - Newport

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June 2019

ASUN History...the persona of change

When someone sorts through an office, it can truly resemble a journey down memory lane. My passion for collecting and saving things is evident in my personal and professional spaces.  Honestly, it has taken me years to come to grips with the hard, cold reality that I have packrat tendencies.  My most honest friends claim that my collections border on the capacity to hoard, however, I do possess a serious desire to keep things tidy and in order; at least this might keep me off a reality television program. 

In organizing an office space recently, I came across several old copies of our former literary magazine, Ridge to River. From 1994 to 2001, this publication encouraged students, faculty, staff and community members to submit articles, essays, and drawings for publication. I was fortunate to serve on its editorial board during those years. When our latest literary publication emerged, ASUN Lit Pub, I was so impressed with its professionalism and quality that my mind traveled back to our initial efforts with Ridge to River. I allowed myself the luxury of nostalgia by flipping through some of these old magazines, and one in particular, dated spring 2001, caught my attention. Our faculty editor at the time, Sandra Provence, had penned an article for the editorial page entitled The Persona of Change, which alluded to the amazing things happening and also on the horizon for our institution.  I recall moving forward excitedly but with a slight tinge of hesitancy when facing the dynamic future which we were certain awaited us. With her permission, I am going to share a snippet of this column…

“ASU-Newport is in a season of Change.  As we meet the challenges of being an independent campus, we have and will continue to encounter many personas of Change.  Not all will be welcoming; yet, as in all of Life’s ironies, Change is our only consistency. So, how do we as a campus and as individuals best deal with Change?

ASU-Newport's most recent Lit Pub.

In the game of Life, Change forces us to become active participants.  It does not allow too much passivity; everyone has to play.  Sometimes Change is a good old friend who offers us a place of solitude and comfort.  The combination is often thought of as a ‘winning hand’, but sometimes Change is a gleaner who takes our last good card.  With assurance, Change prevails over every situation without discrimination, preconceptions, or permission.  Therefore, as individuals, we have to play whatever hand we are dealt.  We must choose wisely for our next move, knowing that Change offers no assurance or guarantees.  We must play our hand well; we must persevere and watch what change will and has done to our teammates and remain prepared to play well for the endurance of the game. 

We have no ability to stop Change, but we each have the responsibility to decide how to react to the Changes in our lives.  As the ASU-Newport campus adapts to the new millennium, each of us (students, faculty, staff, and administrators) has a vital role by being an active participant in the way we accept Change.  I think this is all that Change can ask of any of us…to adapt as best we can and play our hand well.  Embrace the new avenues of learning that Change demands of us to become people of substance and accept the negative aspects of Change by endearing those things of the past that have made our lives better by projecting memories into a time of growth for tomorrow.

So, how does one deal with Change?  As Kahlil Gibran writes in his book, The Prophet, ‘But if in your thoughts, you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all of the other seasons, and let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.’  Perhaps this is how best to deal with change, just as an encircling season of Life.”

These words are as pertinent today as they were almost two decades ago. I’m placing those old copies of Ridge to River next to my new Lit Pub magazine with a real sense of enthusiasm, excitement and optimism for the future.  As a matter of fact, they complement each other pretty well….something with a tinge of tradition next to a dynamic new publication reflecting current times and trends.  Although sometimes it makes me twinge just a bit, I am thankful for change and equally thankful that ASU-Newport still exists in a “season of Change”…..and will continue to do so, as we maintain the thriving, dynamic institution we became.    

This look back is brought to you by Ike Wheeler, ASUN’s Dean for Community Engagement.