I remember a great day in my early childhood in “old” Newburgh when the freshly poured cement was (finally!) dry around the brand-new basketball court and goal installed in my family’s backyard. With new lighting (a single fixture with two spots), hour after hour could be spent doing what millions of other Hoosier youth did while growing up: shooting hoops.
Many Saturday nights were filled with jump shots over the outstretched fingertips of a certain future Newburgh chiropractor while imagining I was playing for the University of Evansville. I suddenly became Curt John (Curt, that’s painful to admit), Irvin “Digger” Graves, Rick Coffey, Steve Welmer, and John Wellemeyer while Marv Bates and Jiggs DeVault did their legendary radio broadcasts, and I never missed the last-second shot at the horn. Little did I know that my early affinity for UE basketball would grow into a slew of terrific relationships and a very special fondness for the university that actually ended up conferring a degree to me at a later (much later!) date.
So I am very excited that Thomas Kazee was inaugurated as UE’s 23rd president on Oct. 2. The exceptionally nice event in the Sesquicentennial Oval, which never looked better, completed a whirlwind week of special events and activities. Also included were the visits by numerous special guests and dignitaries from across the nation.
Kazee was selected after an exhaustive search to replace Stephen Jennings, who retired after nine years of what only can be defined as extraordinary leadership both at the university and community level. By all accounts, the Jennings’ years will be difficult to follow.
So with good fortune, I think the university has found an excellent team in Tom and Sharon Kazee. I have spent time with them on multiple occasions and find them to be warm and engaging with a tremendous passion for education and the university.
The role our universities play in this community is to interact well with the business sector and with our community. I think we are incredibly fortunate to have UE to help make up that strong fabric. And if you look at the tremendous growth and outreach of the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College, our region certainly has been fortunate to have higher education of this caliber in our midst.
So in the middle of a nasty political season with the incessant bickering of local politicians and wags who don’t much like the way anything in our fair city is accomplished, excuse me for taking a minute to point out how fortunate we are to have the educational assets that exist right here. This glass is definitely half full.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker