Alumnus of the Year

“He says he’s got reserved parking… Alumnus of the Year.”

Silence. “Sorry, didn’t get that. Try again?”

The parking lot attendant for this crowded commencement day spoke into his walkie-talkie again. “A guy here says he has reservedparking. Alumni… For the Day.”

“Alumni for the Day?… don’t know anything about that. Wait, hold on.” People walking by the car look at me. Then, “Hey OK, send him through, we’ll figure it out.”

He moves a traffic cone and I shunt out of the lane. They figured it out indeed, and a hundred yards on, there was a space, just for me, another attendant waving me in, moving another cone to one side. Having cones moved for you is very nice, I discover. I would’ve parked where I’ve been parking all semester and walked the five minutes, but when the office told me I had reserved parking, I thought, I’m going for the reserved parking.

Philadelphia Biblical University honored me at Saturday’s commencement as its 2012 Alumnus of the Year, and at a luncheon afterward presented me with a beautiful crystal award. I am humbled and surprised by it. Chancellor W. Sherrill Babb said some awfully nice things at the commencement ceremony, and President of the University Todd Williams introduced me with extremely kind words at the luncheon.

Thirty-two years ago I was graduated from Philadelphia College of Bible (as it was then called), its first year at its present, Langhorne campus, with a Bachelor of Science in Bible and a Bachelor of Music in Composition. Many things here have changed, many things have stayed the same. I would like Sam Hsu to have seen this, but he’s in a better place.

Jackie and I filled in for him, if it can be expressed that way, by teaching Music History 2 (Baroque, Classical) and Music History 4 (1900–present), respectively, until a more permanent fix for his position is found. I’ve enjoyed it immensely and learned so much from teaching there this semester.

I also taught Music Notation at Temple University this semester, and it comes rushing back that Temple’s School of Music presented me with their Alumni award two years ago, similarly surprising and humbling me.

I don’t know what I’ve learned in these years, or what I’ve done to merit these profound notices by these good people, but I do know that I’m in company that I like to keep. These are fine, fine people, and it’s good to be around them.

They sent me through.

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