These are excerpts from a regular column in The Vector an informal, unofficial, and unheralded publication I edited during my years teaching at Lock Haven University. In response to overwhelming demand (a couple of people at least) these are being archived here for those strange people who enjoy wallowing in nostalgia. Some of the references to then-current events may be puzzling, but feel free to skip them, or relate them to more recent events of similar nature (which can always be found). References to internal politics at Lock Haven University may be easily transferred to situations at other academic institutions. A few explanatory comments have been added in square brackets.

    —Donald E. Simanek

Vol. 7 No. 2, 1983


Some readers received copies or the last VECTOR which had some pages printed upside down. Such is their image of us that they assumed we did it deliberately just to see if anyone was paying attention. Not so! We were completely unaware of this at the time. Our policy is to send such copies only to the Phys. Ed. faculty, and to suggest that they read those pages while standing on their heads (for exercise, of course).

Speaking of the folks. over in Jock Haven (Zimmerli Phys. Ed. Bldg.) we note that the Dean of the School of Health, Phys. Ed., and Recreation has not asked to be on our mailing list. But his secretary has. Hmmm....

We apologize for the generally poor printing quality of the last issue. We hope to have achieved some improvement in this issue, but many factors are beyond our control. We have also been informed that a number of copies of the January issue were stapled rather far from the fold. Some good copies are left, and we will be happy to send them out on request to anyone who wants a more accurately stapled copy (for archival purposes, perhaps?)


On July 1, by act of the Pennsylvania Legislature this college and all the other Pennsylvania state colleges will immediately ascend to university status. All will be a part of a statewide university system. This will be a momentous event (it will happen in a brief moment). Some have wondered how to properly commemorate this. Bob Bravard suggests we observe a moment of silent meditation.

But never fear, this change of status and change of name won't he that traumatic. Why, we'll bet you'll not notice the slightest difference in any important aspect of the school.

Speaking of names, we notice that the invitations to the dedication of Robinson Hall stated that the ceremony would he held in the Hall of Flags of the "Learning Center Building." Now we have remarked before that this building had a name problem. In class schedules and the phone directory it was abbreviated "LRC" which could stand for "Learning Resources Center" or "Learning and Research Center," Both names were frequently used. Yet the sign in front of it said. in bold lettering: "Research Learning Center." This is, of course, the building which has now been renamed: ROBINSON HALL, Learning Center. None too soon, we might add, for this was getting confusing.


The "Hall or Flags" in the Robinson Building is a reminder of the misplaced priorities of our previous college president. It is magnificently equipped with earphones at each seat, and booths for translators to provide the members of the audience with simultaneous translations in several languages. Someone had big ideas about holding international conferences here. So far as we can tell, these special facilities have never yet been so used in the two years since the facility was available. I wonder whether we have people skilled at the demanding job of live translation for such an event. If we really needed that service we night have to hire specialists to do it. [I see that now, in 2002, the equipment for translation is in disprepair and not being used.]

The auditorium has more than flags. It has hand-rubbed walnut railings which we are told cost $45,000. We could have saved money by asking our students to rub them down by hand. If students ever get to use this room, that service would come about naturally. But so far this auditorium has been used very little, and certainly not by ordinary college classes! That is probably wise. If experience with other classrooms is any guide, students would probably carve their initials, or worse, in the solid walnut railings. They had already practiced their carving artistry on the paint of the elevator doors even before the building was dedicated!


Remember the new bell tower which was a bit screwy? We noted (in the last VECTOR) that it had an unintended twist. Now we see that work has begun to fix it. Too bad. We thought the twist was a rather artistic touch, perhaps the only interesting thing about the ugly monstrosity. Oh, well, maybe the tower might turn out to be useful. It should make a good scaffold for hanging administrators (in effigy, of course), if the need for that should ever arise.

[The tower, now straight, is shown in this infrared photo by D. Simanek, July 2002.]


The inauguration ceremony for President Willis was briefly interrupted when a golf ball sailed in through the field house window. Many in the audience didn't notice; only a few were roused from slumber. Perhaps this was a symbolic event, signaling that physical education and sports still hold the power at this school. While some students seek knowledge and enlightenment in academic pursuits, others would rather chase balls around.


Academic Vice President John Zaharis recently reported that we continue to participate in a program designed to admit, each year, about 20 students who excel in athletics, but who are considered "high risk" academically. Why do you suppose we don't have similar admissions of high risk students who excel in art, drama, music, or any other area where skills might enhance success? Silly question! Our inquiries reveal that the program is administered by our admissions office, which leaves the selection of students to the coaches. The program had been set up at the request or the coaches. Apparently the coaches perceive a "need" to recruit students with lower academic qualifications—a need not felt by faculty in other departments.


Dr. John Zaharis, usually a sensible fellow for an administrator, was quoted recently as desiring to help students to create "more social amenities." He even suggested that one night a week be "dress up" night for dinner. We certainly don't condone slobbery, nor snobbery, and we agree that many of our students could use a few lessons in social graces. But we hope that style won't displace substance in these matters. and we hope that "dress up" nights be optional. We'd like to see as much emphasis at lock Haven on academic excellence as on "social graces."

Our skeptical nature makes us suspect that the dining service might save money through a dress up night system. Some students might choose to skip a meal rather than go to the trouble of dressing up. Or would attendance be compulsory?


[Update, Nov 2000] Speaking of campus landmarks, LHU has not only the twisted bell tower, but also the fallen arch. No, it's not a symbol of the athletic department. It's the entrance to the original building that was on that site back when LHU was a normal school. We'll resist any obvious jokes about what an "abnormal school" might be. Anyway, the arch was saved, and rebuilt near the new library, sort of lying there, like a tombstone for a dead institution. Rummaging through the archives we came across this picture of the dedication of that arch. It clearly shows President Hamblin doing his "Joe Cool" imitation in the back row. Hamblin's bodyguard stands to his right. At his left, but a bit apart, is a Mafia hit man eyeing Hamblin and wondering if this assignment is worth the trouble.

Return to Uncle Don's Notebook Archives
Return to Donald Simanek's front page.