From the Arbor | News for March from Jerry Weakley
In my career in higher education I have had the privilege to be in the company of and hear dozens of academic leaders speak in meetings large and small. Those whom I have met or have come to know to some extent more personally seem to generally fall into a few select and somewhat similar personality types. Most, at least on the surface, seem to be quite serious and are almost overly concerned with their public image. I suppose that is natural, for often the institution is known by the image of its chief executive.
On March 3, Baker hosted its fourth annual Scholarship Auction and Gala in Overland Park. The theme of the evening was Baker – Behind the Scenes, a contrived spoof on what life might/could/should (???) be like on campus when cameras are NOT present and rolling!
Three videos, produced, written and directed by recent Baker graduate Chris Smith, ’09, of the Office of Marketing and Communications, were featured during the event that raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for student scholarships! These videos featured not only students but also alumni, faculty members and staff members who joined with the “Star of the Show,” President Pat Long, to momentarily step away from their daily personas to take on the roles provided by writer/director Smith . . . all with the intent to provide a fun evening of entertainment.
I have now heard from dozens of attendees. Everyone I have heard from felt that the evening went by so quickly that they hardly knew they had viewed an entire program, much less silent, live and Fund-a-Scholar auctions. Still, the most important result was that Baker raised more money for scholarships than it had at any single event in its history!
President Long drew the most laughter in her varied roles. It is often said that the best actor/actress is one who can “sell” their role even though the audience knows what they are really like. Dr. Pat now has me believing that she really does work some afternoon shifts at the Panda Express restaurant in Overland Park.
Editorial comment: The daily grind of life in general is often too serious and stuffy. The Baker Gala this year stepped out of that mold and gave everyone who attended some moments of gaiety and laughter. Here’s hoping there are more programs similar in nature coming in the next few years.
Access this month’s issue of the Arbor. I hope you will find something in it that will inform, entertain or further engage you with our University!
Jerry Weakley, 1970/MBA 1992