The Class of 2012 – Annual Beloit College “Mindset List”

The start of a new school year brings with it the Annual Beloit College “Mindset List. The list was created 11 years ago to help faculty and others avoid what the creators call “hardening of the references.”

It is always fun to read, so to take your mind off hurricane Gustav while we wait for it to arrive, here are some “mindsets” of the the class of 2012:

  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  • Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
  • Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
  • Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
  • The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno.
  • Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
  • Movies have never been X rated, only NC-17.
  • IBM has never made typewriters.
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones.
  • Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.
  • The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.

The full list can be found here.

Closing Decision To Be Made Monday Morning (Hurricane – part 5)

Gustav is all over the news now, but it is still too early to know what the hurricane will mean to Jackson. The hurricane forecast tomorrow morning at 9 am central time should give us a good understanding of the impact here. At that point, we’ll try to make the best call we can about whether or not to close school for Tuesday.

A few points in the interim:

  • Some students are home in Louisiana for the holiday, and because of the contraflow (the highways being turned to one way traffic for evacuation) it is nearly impossible to get back to campus. We understand, and our faculty will be forgiving and helpful with students who cannot return to campus on time because of the storm. We don’t want anyone to take a risk in their travel.
  • Right now it is projected Jackson has a 32% chance of tropical storm force winds on Monday (37 to 57 mph winds). We will not have classes meet on Tuesday if we are likely to have winds of that speed. Again, we’ll know better tomorrow morning.
  • If we close Tuesday, we will include Monday night classes as well.
  • We would rather be overly cautious and safe, than get in the day of class time.
  • The Red Cross is needing volunteers, and they are right around the corner on Riverside Drive – on the walk to the Center for the Arts. If students are available to help, just show up and they will put you to work preparing materials to go to the coast.

No matter what, be praying for those who will be impacted by the storm. This is a huge hurricane that will cause a great deal of damage no matter where it comes to shore.

I was sent a storm projection web site that is probably the best I’ve seen. Here is the link to

From their web site, this is what the current map is showing – as you can see, the worst of the storm is unlikely to come toward us in Jackson, but hurricanes do change direction at the last minute and thus will not be sure of the path until tomorrow morning.

Hurricane Unlikely to Hit Jackson (part 4 – see below)

Last night the National Hurricane Center did a sophisticated test dropping measuring divices from 40,000 feet all across the hurricane.  Those results can track the storm direction to within 100 miles, so the computer models this morning are much more accurate than what we’ve had thus far.

The storm appears to be headed more to Louisiana than Mississippi, although could bring hurricane force winds to both.  It is predicted to rise to a category 4 storm, but then weaken before it hits land.

The projection of hurricane force winds shows the areas at greatest risk.  For those of you reading who are not familiar with Mississippi geography, Jackson is about half way up the state, just south of the Arkansas/Louisiana state line.

In Jackson, we’re likely to get lots of rain and need to be careful of spin-off tornados, but it appears the hurricane will not come this far north.

Beyond Stupid – College President and His Board of Trustees

Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked any more by secular higher education, the news today shocked me anew.

A community college president in Iowa, Robert Paxton, was photographed on a party boat this summer pouring beer into one of his female student’s mouth.

The picture says it all (the president is in the top left corner) He resigned under pressure yesterday.

The whole story is remarkable – and the response of the board is even more remarkable. The action of all is beyond stupid, and without any moral structure.

But look at the REAL story beyond this president’s act:

  • This did not become an issue for the president and the board until the photograph started to show up on the internet.  Until then, the board had said about the incident, the President “had done nothing improper and the matter wasn’t deserving of the board’s attention.”
  • President Paxton first defended the photograph, saying, “the keg shown was broken and wasn’t dispensing beer.”
  • Binge drinking is the number one problem on college campuses and this president was participating and the board ignored it.
  • They paid the president a $400,000 severance pay, when Paxton is the one who caused this by his actions – no grey areas in this situation.
  • Robert Paxton had been in office 13 years, so you can’t even blame it on a “rookie mistake” as sometimes comes from new presidents who are anxious to “relate” to students.
  • The president’s son had been arrested for drunk driving that very morning and was in the boat with him.

THEN, to top it all off, the quote from the board is beyond disbelief, suggesting there is no link between personal actions and an educational leader’s work responsibility.

The only reason the board could finally agree upon to let Paxton go was PUBLIC PERCEPTION!!  That is just too remarkable to believe.

The thing we struggled with was whether his personal life was, you know, his,” he said. “I think we all thought that was true. On the other hand, his position — I guess what you do in your personal life does affect the public’s perception of what you do on the job.”

This isn’t an assembly line worker who handles “things” all day, but an educational leader shaping impressionable lives, and it must be a 24/7 responsibility.  Those in higher education who don’t want that responsibility should get out, and find a different line of work.

As usual, living with a boundary free worldview creates pattern of improper behavior and doesn’t show itself only through a single incident. The news reports, “In 2002, Paxton was indicted on charges of felonious misconduct in office, falsification of public records and tampering with public records. The charges grew out of an investigation into student athletes being awarded false grades.”

I thought I’d seen it all in higher education, but this one is just remarkable.

Hurricane Preparation – part 3 (see part 1 and 2 below)

Hurricane Gustav is starting to get the attention of the country, and as reported this morning on CNN

Since track forecasts are always subject to large errors at three to five days, it is simply impossible at this time to determine exactly where and when Gustav will make final landfall,” the hurricane center’s forecasters said.

it would be no surprise if rapid intensification occurred and Gustav became a Category 4 or 5 hurricane by 72 hours.

The overaching path of the storm sees it drifting even further west than yesterday, but watch the computer models, not just the single picture of the projected storm cone.  Three of the models project the storm to hit much closer to us.  The other three models tend to make it more of a threat to our Houston campus.

Hurricane Preparation – part 2 (see part 1 below)

Today we have everything into place should the hurricane hit Jackson.

  • 4,200 bottles of water
  • lots of food that doesn’t need refrigeration
  • Resident Directors are stocked with flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, and emergency radios
  • each residence hall also has a walkie-talkie so they can communicate if they can’t go out, and a bull-horn if needed.
  • all the trees on campus were checked today to see if any needed to come out ahead of the storm.

Tonight, each campus resident is required to attend a pre-storm meeting. The agenda is included below.


Please announce to your classes this evening and tomorrow to check the web should the storm hit. That will be only way we are likely to be able to communicate with all students, faculty and staff. Our homepage already has a Hurricane Gustav link.

Our team has done an outstanding job putting our preparation plan into action.

We are as ready as possible.


Mandatory Hall Meeting – Hurricane Gustav

1.    College Preparations Include:

a.    Large stockpile of bottled water.

b.    MMI has food reserves including foods that do not require cooking.

c.    Residence halls have first aid kits, flashlights, etc.

d.    Belhaven website will be updated as needed throughout the storm.  There is a link on the homepage.  (Tell your parents.)

e.    Check your Belhaven email account.  We will communicate in that way as long as we can.

2.    Should you go home now?

a.    You should not go anywhere until we know where the storm is headed.  It could veer off to Texas or Florida.

b.    If it appears imminent that the storm will hit our area, we should be able to advise you as to whether you should leave or not, and where it may be safe to go.  With a severe storm, everyone who can go home should do so.  If you are able to go home, you are encouraged to bring friends home with you who cannot go to their own homes.

c.    Student Life is in regular communication with the Athletics department.  In the event of a severe storm in our area, practices and/or games will be cancelled.

3.    If you choose to stay at Belhaven, or you have no other options:

a.    We will take every precaution for your safety during the storm and your wellbeing afterwards.  That may include being confined to your residence hall immediately before and during the storm – for your safety.  Those who violate this policy will face disciplinary action.

b.    Be prepared to experience several very hot, uncomfortable days and nights after the storm with no AC, running water, etc.  It is unlikely that we will be able to provide an air conditioned location for you to sleep as we were able to do after Katrina.  It is NOT a slumber party!

c.    There may be a curfew established – for your safety and the security of the facilities.

4.    How should you prepare for the storm?  You may want to:

a.    Buy a flashlight

b.    Have some bottled water and snacks

c.    Fill your car with gas – pumps don’t work without electricity, when some came back online, the lines were VERY long, and prices went up drastically.

d.    Confirm that you have adequate prescription drugs, etc. on hand.

e.    Have some cash.  ATM & credit cards are useless without power.

f.    Don’t park under or near a tree if you can help it.  Wells residents, don’t park behind Wells Hall – Katrina picked up roofing stones and broke many windows.

5.    In the event of a Tornado Warning, go to lowest level of your building, away from windows.

6.    After the storm, do not go outside until cleared by staff.  Most deaths occur after the storm due to downed power lines, etc.

Hurricane Preparation

The path of Hurricane Gustav looks remarkably like the path of Hurricane Katrina, that hit three years ago this weekend. It is now projected as a category 3 storm, just as Katrina was at this point in its path.  This is the best tracking site for hurricanes.

As you know, hurricanes can change direction and it all depends on exactly where it hits and the storm surge at the time it hits. But the current projected path is almost the exact same place as Katrina came ashore on the Mississippi coast, and coming all the way to Jackson – closing our campus for a week.

We are putting into action our storm plan in precaution. During Katrina we lost electricity, gas, and water for several days.

Here are several steps we are taking as a College and that I would encourage faculty and staff and off campus students to take action tomorrow (Thursday) and not wait.

COMMUNICATION – No matter how bad the storm our web site will be active because it is housed in Atlanta. We will keep information posted on my blog as the storm gets closer, and our web site is the key to keeping informed about school closing as well as when we would open again, should the storm hit. One of our biggest problems during Katrina was finding a way to be in communication with students, because during the crisis, we could not even get our news out on the television. Watch our web site should we need to close and power is out.

WATER AND FOOD – We are bringing in a large supply of bottled water and food that does not need to be refrigerated. During Katrina, we came down to only 12 hours of food remaining, and we hope to be better prepared this time. I would encourage you to do the same right away.

GAS AND OTHER PROVISIONS– It was nearly impossible to get gasoline for almost a week after Katrina. Fill up your tank right away. We are filling all the security vehicles, as well as the College storage tank.  It is important to get prescription drugs filled, make sure you have batteries and a flash light, and get some cash on hand.

STORM PROTECTION – The student life staff will be training students this week regarding what to do should the storm hit. We lost a ton of trees last time, but fortunately few buildings were damaged. But hurricane force winds (even only a category 1 which Katrina was when it hit our Jackson campus) are very dangerous. A woman was killed by a tree just two blocks from the campus during Katrina, so we want to assure all students are in a secure area should the storm hit. If it hits, power lines will be down. Coming out after the storm and touching a power line is how most people are killed in an inland storm.

GOING HOME AFTER THE STORM – When Katrina hit, and the dust had settled, many students who lived close enough to get home did so. We encourage students to do that, but will not want them to leave until after the storm is fully passed. Many took students from out of state with them, and that was a help since those left on campus (about 350 students) were sleeping on the floor in the one building where we had power.

TRUST GOD AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER – The Lord brought us through Katrina, and as a campus we were able to help others who were hit so much harder than we experienced. No matter where this storm hits the coast, many will suffer, and we’ll want to already be praying for those whose lives will be changed if the hurricane hits. We will want to respond and support whatever area is damaged on the coast.

I’ll keep you updated here as in the days ahead. For those who have been through Katrina and have other suggestions for what we can do in preparation, please contact me.

Author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die” Died

Dave Freeman, co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” a travel guide of odd adventures, has died. He was 47. Freeman died last week after falling at his Venice, California home and hitting his head,

“This life is a short journey,” the book says. “How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?”

The book’s recommendations ranged from the obvious — attending the Academy Awards and running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain — to the more obscure — taking a voodoo pilgrimage in Haiti and “land diving” on the Island of Vanuatu, which Freeman once called “the original bungee jumping.”

We should enjoy the diversity of the world God has created and not be fearful to explore new things. But if the focus of life becomes collecting exotic adventures, rather than living in genuineness every day, we miss the real joy of living as God designed us.

“What did Jesus do every day?” was the focus of chapel today.  Many of the memorable moments of His life are recorded, but what He did in everyday life shows us the pattern for how to live.

  • Jesus spent time building his inner strength, so that outwardly, he could reveal the nature of God through what he did.

First Chapel Tomorrow

To me the school year “feels started” when we have the first chapel of the fall semester.  It’s always a packed house, and I’m not sure anything encourages me more than when our students come together to worship.

I really miss our weekly chapels during the summer, so glad tomorrow is almost here.

I’m speaking for the first chapel, as I always do, using the text of our Belhaven College verse of the year. Become mature and measure up to the full stature of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

I pray God will challenge us to think about what it means to measure up to the full stature of Christ.  I’m using the short video “My King” to remind us who Christ is, and who we are called to be.  This is our standard.

Through the transforming power of God we can measure up to the full stature of Christ by living each day, just as Jesus lived on earth — Jesus  spent time building his inner strength, so that outwardly, he could reveal the nature of God through what he did.

China Wins – The Olympics

I’m sorry to see the Olympics come to an end.  204 countries competed – the most ever.  And when you watch the athletes, you remember how much people all over the world are alike – it’s a shame we focus so much energy on our differences.

This Olympics was probably the best ever.  Not only was it well staged and competed, but the games were remarkable because of how much they meant to the home country.  The Olympics are always a point of pride for the host city, but this year, there was a remarkable commitment of openness from China behind the games – and we need to be praying it will continue in this country that includes 1/5th of the world’s population.

The last time the world was this focused on China was the Tiananmen Square student uprising of 1989. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen then, just as I was fascinated by these games dominated by a country that wouldn’t compete in sports they were sure they couldn’t win until just 20 years ago.

A fascinating look at how the Olympics have changed is on the NY Times web site.  It shows the medal count through the years.  While it feels like the US and China dominated the games, that’s not always been the case.

No matter what the final medal count is for the 2008 Olympics, China wins.