Swan Songs

Masland albert 20190816 0644 dickinson magazine fall 2020

by Albert Masland '79, Alumni Council President

Greek legend held that swans sing a beautiful song just before they die. I’m planning on sticking around, and a beautiful song is not in my wheelhouse, but this is my swan song as Alumni Council president. Years ago, the G-man paid me to accompany my classmate Bill Nickey, a real musician. Today, the Octals and the Crescendevils would ask me to lip-sync.

Of course, the last 16 months have made it hard to sing anything but a lament. I think of Psalm 137: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” We have not been exiled to Babylon, but in many ways we have become strangers in our own land. How does one sing a song of joy in a so-called black swan pandemic?

That may be challenging, but that is my goal. And, perhaps because I have my boots on the ground in Carlisle, it will be more palatable. I’d like to think that as your president, I’m in the right place at the right time. We can only rely so much on Zoom. You need to hear from one of your own who walks around the campus and stands six feet from students, faculty and administration. We all need to see things for ourselves, and that time will come soon enough.

For now, trust me that if we stick together, we’ll make it. As a townie, I assure you that there’s life behind the limestone walls, Old West is still standing, the Denny Hall bell rings and students still toss Frisbees on the Benjamin Rush Campus. As an adjunct professor, I am inspired every class by truly engaged students (and an alumni auditor—thanks, Melissa), whether they’re on Zoom or in person.

Finally, trust that your Alumni Council will continue to strengthen the connection among alumni, students and the college. The AC will help fortify an institution that has weathered the storms for almost 240 years and has no intention of singing anything but “Noble Dickinsonia!”

Read more from the spring 2021 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published May 19, 2021