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06 December 2006

The Chancellor

He is to the University as God is to the universe. Or at least it seems that way.

And every year, around this time, he invites many distinguished guests to the Heinz Chapel for a private concert presented by the Heinz Chapel Choir, of which I am a member, followed by a reception in the Cathedral of Learning afterwards. It's a night that is archaically referred to by the choir as "the Night of the Living Dead," because apparently in years past, the guests thought that they were attending a church service, and not a concert. As such, they never applauded and kept a reverent expression on their faces the entire time. The year that the suggestion of applause was first made, only the Chancellor and his wife did so.

But since then, things have changed a bit. The Chancellor now actually makes a point of informing the audience in advance that they are attending a concert, and not a service, so that they feel welcome to appropriately show their appreciation for the choir's hard work. And people do applaud, as well as smile from time to time.

Now, it's rather obvious from the way I'm writing and from the timing that this year's event occurred tonight (the evening of Tuesday 05 December). The Chancellor gave his little speech to the audience, and then the concert began. All went well, and then it was time for the last set of songs. As I took my place on the little wooden box that marked my spot, I looked at the pew directly in front of me.

There was Chancellor Nordenberg.

For the rest of the concert, I was less than ten feet away from him. His presence was moderately intimidating as I performed in front of this very important person whom I had never met before. Had I fainted (if I were one to faint), and the little barrier had not been between us, my face would have been right at his feet... which under those circumstances would be the most appropriate posture in the world. So Emily can quit complaining about being put on the Jumbotron (although that's pretty nerve-racking, too). But at least those people don't matter; Chancellor Nordenberg does.

But he was certainly not there to judge, and that showed in his smile throughout the whole concert. Afterwards, we went to the Cathedral for the reception. Now, if you're one of those people who is reminded of Hogwarts every time they see the Cathedral's Commons Room, imagine it decked out for Christmas... decorated for the Chancellor's Holiday Reception.

And the food. It was amazing. There were huge cookies, gingerbread men, crackers, hot cider, punch, eggnog (non-alcoholic), pumpkin rolls, salmon, brie, and some other fancy things that I would not have been able to identify were it not for the little cards next to the platters that probably cost $6 themselves.

We ate and talked, and eventually someone suggested that we talk to the Chancellor, so we did. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and is an all-around great guy. And I did what I'd been waiting three years to do, ever since my old high school principal's retirement.

I asked the Chancellor if the name "Randy Newson" sounded familiar. He asked if he was sort of red-headed, and then he added that I probably couldn't tell anymore. I told him that Mr. Newson had been my high school principal, and he asked if he was a good principal. "Of course," I responded. Otherwise, I wouldn't have brought him up. And then someone brought up ghosts, and the Chancellor told the stories of the two campus ghosts, and how we didn't need any "fake" ghosts. He summed everything up by saying that we have a Rhodes scholar, a Marshall scholar, and two ghosts... we must be doing well! As I said, he has a great sense of humor.

So, to make a long story short, I finally was able to say "Hi" to Chancellor Nordenberg for one of his old college buddies. And on the slight chance that Mr. Newson ever reads this, he says "Hi" back!

And then I came back to the dorm, did about as much CHEM homework as I could stand, and then came down to recount my evening before going back to hitting the books. My guess is sleep will once again come around 02:00.

Random tangent: I went to the bank to cash a check today. Nothing came of it, but I realized hours later that I never endorsed the back of the check. I wonder what happens now...


Anonymous said...

You don't know what happens when you don't endorse a check?!?!?! The Alpha Squad comes to your house and kills you in your sleep!

I kid, of course. And I didn't get put on the jumbotron last night by myself as has been the trend the past couple of games, but I was on there as a part of a group shot.

Tim Parenti said...

I am so very scared... Actually, I just checked, and the transaction posted to my account with no problem.

And being part of a group shot isn't so bad. At least you're not alone then.

Anonymous said...

TIM! I'm going to cry. Wouldn't you know it, I am indeed 3501. HAHAHA! And that's not true at all... If you don't endorse a check you're not killed in your sleep! The CIA comes and takes you away, and I wish I could tell you what happens next, but no one who has done that has ever been seen again. Terribly sorry to inform you of such bad news.

Tim Parenti said...

Actually, according to SiteMeter, you were 3502, Megan. I was 3501 when I posted the little thing in the sidebar that says I hit 3500.

So terribly sorry.

Lexi Elizabeth said...

sorry i haven't read this yet. it had a lot of words when i first looked at it, and then i sort of got really busy and haven't been on the computer for more than a few minutes.

Tim Parenti said...

It's okay. Take your time. I don't mind.

Just read it eventually!

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