Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian Sept. 29, 2006 Volume 103, No. 5

As dedications go, this one was brief, efficient and pleasant. The Hoover Center dedication Sept. 14 featured words of praise for the donors, warm acknowledgement of the services of myriad people and offices involved in the project and a pretty decent offering of victuals for the assemblage.

There was the obligatory ribbon-cutting, followed by tours of the building. The threatened rains, thankfully, never materialized.

And so the Department of Business now finds itself ensconced in Hoover. The offices have been furnished, bookcases have been filled up and the coffee machine makes gurgling sounds in the faculty lounge. The classrooms are all smart--bristling with document cameras, wired, ready to bring the world into the classroom. Not bad.

But have things changed all that much? Is life in Hoover really so different from that in Nicarry? Take my office. In Nicarry, I had a desk, a few chairs, a small round table, bookshelves. The walls were barren, except for an old calendar.

Minimalist chic, I claimed, but my visitors thought otherwise. A concerned colleague, Sean Melvin, dropped off some artwork to spruce up the decor. I put them up on the walls--a Bruegel showing a scene of feasting (Peasant Wedding c.1568), a Van Gogh depicting a cafe scene.

The prints did indeed lend color to the office, and for a while I basked in the beauty of Art. I would type something on my computer, and then I would look up, and there was Bruegel with his depiction of Rabelaisian revelry. My office had taken on a touch of daring. Was this in keeping with the Brethren tradition, I wondered?

Months passed, and then it was time to move to Hoover. I thought briefly about keeping the framed prints, but decided that would be distinctly unBrethren like and returned them to my colleague.

We moved into the Hoover Center in late August. I arranged the furniture in my office. The desk, the chairs, a small round table, bookshelves. But the walls were barren. I tried posters, even a calendar, but they didn't work.

And then one day, after teaching a class, I returned to my office, and there they were: two paintings sitting on the small round table. The Bruegel and the Van Gogh. I hung them up.

And so life in Hoover goes on. There is coffee, there is wireless and there is Art.