James Schmidt Interview, pt. 2




James Schmidt is the current Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. The interview begins with Schmidt discussing his early life and career, but the main focus of the Oral History is the Viennese Ball, where Schmidt discusses how he came to learn of the Ball, his experiences with the event, and the power of student experiences with the event. The Chancellor cites his personal philosophies in how important the event can be in shaping the lives of students.


Interviewer Jacob Merkle


April 16, 2019


[00:00] CV: What’s up beautiful people. My name is Chaly Vang,

JM: I’m Jacob Merkle,

CV: And today is Tuesday, April 16 of 2019 and today we have a special guest, Chancellor James Schmidt and we will be conducting an interview with him on his experience with the Viennese Ball for the Sounds of Eau Claire project. With that, Chancellor James Schmidt, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself? Your hometown, your family, education, and other stuff.

JS: Sure. I grew up in a very small town, Houston, Minnesota, a town of a thousand people. I had a graduating class of only 53 people in it. And because it was a small high school, I had an incredible number of opportunities. Believe it or not I was a three-sport athlete for part of my time there. Clearly, I wouldn’t have the talent to do that in most places. I was involved in a lot of other activities including a lot in music. I played trombone and piano going through high school and I was even in choirs and my kids, this was just brought up recently, were stunned that I actually was ever in a singing group. I’m not taking any offense by that or if they’ve heard me singing. I said as a matter of fact, I have state awards in both trombone and singing, which is hard to believe. For the record, I think it is important that the public know that I have no actual talent. Anything that I might have earned was completely sweat equity. There is absolutely no actual talent within me in the music front. But because of that I have an appreciation for music. So, I played in a jazz band in high school. Actually, I sat first chair trombone five of my six
years in high school and that was under five different band directors with a lot of
turnover. Clearly it wasn’t that it was somebody’s favorite student. I had a junior high
bad that was seventh and eighth grade and then senior high band was nine through
twelve. I even sat first chair, I don’t think I did my ninth grade, but I did ten through
twelve. I was competitive enough, I guess that’s what it would say about me, as
opposed to having the talent. IN addition to the regular high school choir, again I was in
a mixed ensemble and I was in a boy’s quartet and competed and I actually had solos in
each of those, so I pulled it off somehow. Made me very nervous. I was even less
confident in my piano playing skills and I remember some terrifying concert where I was
asked to play the piano for the choir a few times. I had a lot of those kinds of
opportunities. My mom was big into the arts. She was a theater director primarily and
so I was active in drama, including singing in some musicals. Because of her background,
she made sure we had great expositor to the arts even though we were in kind of a
sheltered, small town. I used to joke about seeing a lot of museums in a stroller. I saw
access to Broadway shows when they were touring in the twin cities. I remember going
to the University of Minnesota indoor marching band concert so everything music was
of interest to me and I found an institution that is phenomenal in music and I would put
our music program up against anybody in the country. Everything from the Blugold
Marching Band to our amazing choirs to the symphony, the orchestra, the bands, jazz
band, I mean, this an easy place to fall in love with if you have any appreciation whatsoever for music. In terms of where I went to school, so Houston High School. My
undergraduate degree is in political science with a business minor from Winona State
University. I have a M.B.A. from the of St. Thomas – St. Paul and my doctorate degree is
in higher education administration from the University of Minnesota.

JM: You mentioned a lot about Eau Claire’s music program being very high up there. Did you know the music program and music in general was so prominent before you came to
Eau Claire?

JS: So, I didn’t know it was as prominent. I had heard about it because most recently I was vice president down at Winona State University, so it is really only 70 miles out of the way. In many ways, Eau Claire has still kept itself a pretty good secret, which is too bad. I always knew Eau Claire academically was a very strong institution and I had heard from colleagues at Winona State about the music program, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the depth of the programs and the fact that so many non-music majors are active in
different music ensembles. Again, that is kind of our power of and statement.


JM: Right, absolutely. And so, with a large music program and how competitive it is,
Eau Claire has a lot of festivals that occur throughout the year including Jazz Fest and
Gatsby Gala but the most prominent seems to be the Viennese Ball. Did you know
anything about the Viennese Ball before you came here since I believe it was in the
1980s it was voted the largest one outside of Vienna.

JS: I didn’t really know anything about the Viennese Ball but interestingly enough when I
was here to interview for the job as Chancellor, my interview was in March and it’s a
three day interview so just to give people an idea, so I was on campus for three days in interviews and I remember seeing a sign, or someone pointing it out to me, back then
there was an annual ball gown sale and I think they were brought in on consignment or
somewhere else and I saw the signs up for that. Every time I would walk by that with
either a student that was giving me a tour or a staff member, they would tell me about
this and what a big deal the Viennese Ball is. They started calling it V-Ball and I wasn’t
quite sure, I thought of volleyball, what is this? So I heard about is and in fact, people
were so excited because I had been named by the time the Viennese ball occurred a
number of people asked me, oh you should come up for the Viennese Ball and you
know, candidly I would have been interested but we had an interim Chancellor and part
of my philosophy is you let the people in these positions finish their positions and so you
wanna be very consciences you’re not stepping on them. My first Viennese Ball was in
my very first year here. I have stark memories of that experience.

JM: Would you like to elaborate on those memories?

JS: Well yeah, so first of all they really transformed Davies. It is a stunning building anyway. My first year here was only the second year that the building was opened so it still had that new building smell. They changed out all the lights, they put in that crystal
chandelier in the grand staircase, all the plants and everything they do to dress that
facility up, it was really stunning. It’s an overwhelming experience to the senses. I mean
everything from the music, to the decorations, to the food, candidly I am still getting a
little bit of goose bumps. I notice all of these students I recognize from campus and then
they’re all dressed up. Women in the gowns, guys in either tuxes or nice suits and they
carry themselves differently. I have to tell you that I see what it does to the student. They feel good about themselves cause they’re all dolled up as my mom would say. It’s
kind of funny, I get so many requests for selfies in the night of the Viennese Ball. People
keep coming up and it’s cute and I’m happy to do it but what I realized is students are
feeling good about themselves. You know, when you’re feeling good about yourselves,
you want to share that with other people. That’s a really important experience. Frankly,
given the timing of it in April, you’re kinda in the last logs of the academic year and we
have just gotten through usually horrendous winters, mostly, since I’ve been here. That
notion of spark and magic is a great way to carry student, certainly, but anybody else
through the rest of the academic year. Part of my first year I wanna make sure I do the
ceremonial thing as well. Back then, there were more roles that I played and frankly, I
think the ball has improved because I am not talking as much because nobody comes to
that to hear me talk. I think the changes they made to the Ball in the last several years
have been very positive. But you know, many people see me speak all the time but you
gotta use a little bit of nerves and use that as energy to kind of make the point you
wanna make. I remember I got through the ceremonial piece and the opening section
are these two amazing choirs. It really gives you a whole new appreciation for choral
music. You’ve got the women’s concert choral, and then you got the singing statesmen
and to hear the joy of their voices and frankly the acoustics are very good in the Ojibwe
Ballroom. I wanna add that I typically host friends of the university both nights. We’ll
have alums that come back, benefactors who come back, and my wife and I share this
with our friends as well. So, I often bring close personal friends to the ball as well so it’s
a nice mix. After I got past the shock and awe of the experience myself, I would look at the faces of my friends that I’d bring and they are entranced, would be the word I would
use, and can’t believe that a school like this has this kind of talent. So, we get through
the opening piece and then they do is they quickly take down all the chairs, which is a
thing to watch anyway, in the Ojibwe Ballroom to clear the dancefloor. Right on time,
the symphony starts with a traditional Viennese Waltz and back then they had the
student dance club do at least one number to show off. Frankly, I would like to see them
bring that back, they have stopped doing that. That is one change I would love. They
only have like five or six or seven couples, there’s plenty of room on that floor for them
really to show their stuff. That was impressive. Then, as the floor fills in, great show as I
see people that clearly have been dancing together for seventy years. I mean, you’ve got
some very senior members of the community and candidly my grandparents on my
mom’s side of the family used to teach dance. I mean they both had jobs, but they loved
to dance. Growing up, I watched my grandparents dance. So, I think some of these folks
have been dancing together; so light on their feet. I mean I have realized that dancing
takes a lot of energy and you see these people just floating, it seems effortlessly, across
the floor. What I noticed was that some of the older couples were coming up to the
student dancers and complementing them on their dancing. I saw a couple times where
that would happen where the younger students were going up to some of the older
couples and talking to them and I noticed them exchanging, kind of showing each other
different dance steps, and that hit me. It was my very first year there. After I kind of go
through the shock and awe, I started looking, what was the impact of the student
experience. For me, that’s what it’s all about. In everything we do here, if I can’t trace it back to the student experience, I’m not interested. It just doesn’t do much. It’s fine to
have a party, it’s great to have a good time, but how does it change your future path.
What is that lasting thing you take from that. So here is my takeaway. We generally
have nice students. I mean they’re pleasant to be around, I am almost never
embarrassed. You know, occasionally, some student will do something on a Saturday
night I wish they hadn’t, but generally I’m never worried about bringing legislators to
campus, regents to campus, because I know my students are going to impress them. So,
the students know that you should “respect your elders,” But event that creates
distance. Frankly, speaking to people, even a generation ahead of you, let alone two
generations ahead of you, can be intimidating. I’ve seen a lot of high school students in
particular where they don’t meet people even ten or twenty years older than them,
easily. The Ball cuts through that notion of just respecting your elders and it helps you to
understand not only do you share a passion, or a love, or an appreciation for something
like dancing or music, but that you can be conversant and that you can learn from each
other. What that does is it levels the playing field, still respecting your elders, but
understanding that there is this appreciation and connection. I’ve seen students who
have not otherwise had those experiences that go into the work place and there is
distance. Some people might refer to it as these generational things or those gen-x-ers
or those millennials or gen-z-ers, they work a different way, they’re complicated, they
work differently than baby boomers. Some of those things are there, but those are all
artificial barriers and the sooner our students are prepared to go through life breaking
through those barriers and relating, that will set them up for success. You will go further in whatever your measure of success is if you can figure out how to tap in through that
intergeneration experience. You think about if you work for an organization or a
company that has socials, whether it’s a holiday party, whether it’s a summer picnic,
whether its bowling together, there’s all kind of things, and those are those
opportunities. But there are also those things where you may be the member of a
community and go to some big charity event, like a Viennese Ball, and understand that
you don’t have to feel uncomfortable about this. I think that’s a major benefit. So that’s
the benefit from the student’s perspective. From the community perspective, imagine
the inroads its making. When their impression, you know, of UW Eau Claire students are
these nice young men and women who they’ve seen at the ball. They know they clean
up well, you know, they have an appreciation and that there’s more to them than
whatever internal story they would tell about the young generation. I always get a kick
out of it. And anytime I’m speaking to a Rotary club, Lions club, Elks club, name an
animal club that’s out there, I always invite them to come to campus and to walk into
Davies Center, go up to a table full of students and ask them if they can join them. And I
said, ask them why they came to the university, ask them what they hope to do when
they’re done. And I said, I guarantee you you will walk off campus knowing or having
your faith restored in the future in this country because these will be the leaders and
you will have confident in them. And you know, candidly, I also, you know I think they
can become our ambassador in the community cause there, you know, occasionally
there are students that do something stupid in the community that affect people and
rather than (an elicit) all, you know, letters togethers that makes these board statements about this generation or students not being any good. They will, be the type that say, you know what, one or two stupid things from a couple students doesn’t paint the whole group of it. So I bet cha didn’t think I was gonna go to this direction with this ball. But those were my take away and my first year. And those have been really powerful. And so now I continue to look for that. I look. Beyond that, one of my first impressions from the first year, I can’t remember if it’s Friday or Saturday night but we happen to be in the main ballroom, and right around midnight, about eight feet from me, I saw a young men take a knee and open up a little box. And so I’ve seen, I think that’s my, I’ve seen now three wedding proposals in my time going to I think now teen Viennese Ball. So that always little special memories. I have to say it’s fun because in addition to community members, you’ve got alumnus that’ve come back, alumnus who have always gone or some that have never gone. I hosted a young couple in their early forties. They went to school here. He proposed to her in front of Zorn arena and they’d always heard about the ball, but this was their first time back and they live in Rochester Minnesota now and they said they’re coming back every year.


JM: That incredible. That’s wonderful to hear.

CV: Thanks for sharing that with us. Really powerful story and important. Going off what you said too, do you see a difference in the days of the Viennese Ball? Is there a certain
difference in Friday or Saturday?

JS: There is, yeah, it’s a good example. So, I know that Saturday typically sells out quickly.
You know, they typically got twenty-two to twenty-three hundred people there on
Saturday, just talk to folks at Davies Center and asked for those numbers. Friday night usually is a little less crowded. They typically would have you know four hundred or five
hundred fewer people there. So it’s a little bit easier to move around cause one of the
big challenge of the Viennese Ball is that it got six, seven, eight different music venues
depending on the year and how they do it. And just getting back and forth to them. And
you know, particularly I’ve noticed getting into the woodland theater if you wanna see
any acapella groups, you’re gonna stand in line. Unless you’re there early, you’re gonna
be out in the wings and you’re not gonna be able to see it. So there is a little bit of
scarcity of space issues. Generally, Friday night has a higher proportion of students than
Saturday. And I think part of it is a lot of people in the community are just you know,
excited to go and they, you know, worked Friday so they prefer to go on Saturday.
Candidly, a lot of our students, you know, maybe their Friday schedule isn't as busy and
maybe they didn’t buy tickets fast enough and so they’re there on Friday. So each day
has its own little personality. And you know, sometimes you can see some small
differences in the performances too. People feel like they have maybe a little more rest
on Saturday and have to tell you that I’ve enjoyed them all. But the two carol groups
that started, they were great Friday night, but man, they just nailed it Saturday night
this year. They just I mean, it was right on and seem to be stronger. One of the other
things I noticed is the performance also change based on the alumnus of the Viennese
Ball that come back. So I notice one of the acapella groups had almost you know, all of
the members of that acapella group from the last two or three years of the graduate
and they were right in the front row. And so it’s really playful. With the opening carol
groups on Saturday night and I looked around to the back, I saw a whole bunch of alumnus that were there and it was downright ruckus. And what I mean by that is
they’re cheering them on, they’re just shouting, they remember their own role there
and it’s like they’re reliving it. I had a couple of my guests this year point that out. They
said it is so cool and so much fun to see how the students and the alumnus support the
performer, their fellow students or performers. I mean they treat them like rock stars.
It’s at that kind of fever pitch and that says something a lot about our students’
population. You know, there’s these stereotypes and it’s portrayed in movies and other
things you know, band geeks or choir geeks, I won’t name any movies, but you know,
they make fun of it, but it isn’t the geeky thing to do here. They are, they’re the rock
stars of UW Eau Claire are these different music groups you know the BMB and go all
the way down. If they can figure out a way to get the Blugold Marching Band into the
ball, that be a lot of fun too so.

JM: Absolutely. There's been a lot of talk so far about alumni coming to this event,
how important is it for alumni and donors and other people to come to this event to

JS: You know, being very candid, benefactors and alumni you cultivate and, people don't
give primarily almost nobody gives for tax deduction. You know, in fact, some of the
change of the tax law made some of that not as relevant. If you look at, and there's all
kinds of lists out there, 20 most important things. Tax Deduction is usually number 19 or
20. People give and they don't give to bail out of failing institution. Generally they want
to, they want to give to excellence. They want to be associated with something. They
want to be associated with something that makes a difference. But there is a famous fundraising author who says people give to save or change lives. You know, so hospitals
save lives. There's some alums and some students here who would argue we've saved
their life because we've helped them find themselves and be successful. But by a large,
our mission is to change lives. And, and if a donor can come to campus and kind of
assess the place, they have to have confidence in the leadership. That's a piece of it. So
part of it is if I can spend some time with them, they can size me up and decide if they
can trust me to spend their resources as well. But the most important thing is they want
to see their money going to directly impact the student's life. They want to change a life.
You know, in many cases they have, they want to change your specific life or they
believe that to their investment, that alum is gonna go out and do good things in the
world and change the lives of others. And if they can do both at the same time, that's,
that's a clear win. And so, you know, it's fine for me to, you know, visit and an alum in
Los Angeles, Chicago or Minneapolis, Milwaukee and said, gee, we're doing great things
here. And gee, we got great students and there a great investment. I, you can, you can
talk. But it's a different thing to experience. And so when alarms and benefactors are my
guests at the ball or they're just coming on their own, how is it possible for you to leave
this campus and think, well, that would be money down a rat hole. They're like, this is a
university I'd be, I'm proud to be associated with. These are students that I want it. I
mean, they're already great. I want to help them go even further. I want to make sure
they've got top faculty members in their classrooms. I want to make sure they have
opportunities to undergraduate research or do study abroad. I want to make sure we've
gotten the support. Maybe in scholarships, they didn't have to work so many hours so they can do more of this kind of thing. They understand that if you're a member of one
of these groups, you're giving up time that you could be working, whether it's at
McDonald's or someplace else, you're giving up time to be able to bring together these
kinds of performances. So what, tell me a better, you know, there are a few other
examples. Circa we've got the research week and we got 300 some posters up. Yeah,
we've got some people who are interested in athletics and basketball games and yet
they're excited about that. You got to have all kinds of entry points. But I'm going to win
as an entity and we're going to win together every time we can expose our alumns and
benefactors to this amazing event.

JM: Yes, absolutely.


CV: Awesome. With that being said too, you said before you went to about at least
ten of the V-ball days already. Have you seen any change within the ball as you bend to
so many different V-ball already?

JS: You know, I have and, and yeah, my first one was when Davies Center was only in its
second year. And I remember in their first, you know, that what they told me is they
were still working out the kinks because they had kind of a way they did it in the old day
be center and they were still trying to work out the kinks to make sure it flowed well.
And so I think they are constantly reevaluating. I got an email right away Monday
morning from people in the Davies Center asking for my feedback. I still haven't
respond, but how is it working? You know? But there were, you know, making sure
venues are big enough, making sure that if the free, the flowing is enough, they try to
calibrate what's the optimal number of students or people who are there. Now, like I said, Saturday came get crowded. I thought the Saturday was fine. I think they did most
of these really well. And then they change the other change up. The performance is, like
I said, I think all of the changes that I've made since I've been here have been positive.
Although I need to put in a plugin cause I'd like to see the student dance club do a little,
a little demonstration in the first 10 minutes of the, of the walls. Cause I just think their
work is so impressive and it kind of shows us up. I'll tell you a little story about that since
I have now back to that point, it was my first Viennese ball and a we had two of our dear
friends up from our town we were in before and Winona and they were there and we
were kind of watching, I think it was six or seven couples, uh, on the dance floor. we're
the best. And there was one couple that I think we're clearly the strongest and I made
sure they were students but they were part of this dance group. And then my wife was
being very self conscious about whether or not we were expected to do like the first
answer to have very, you know, every year my wife and I promise we're going to go get
dance lessons and we make an awesome solemn vow. The Saturday at the ball that
we're going to do that. And every year we have to say we didn't do it again and we're
going to do this year. She started booking it while we were there. So, but so she was a
feeling a little secure. So it'd be nice to me and my wife, my or our friends went up to
this couple and talk to them privately. We didn't see them doing that. And they had the,
the gentleman go up to my wife and young woman come up to me and ask us to dance
and wow. So for those hadn't been at the Viennese ball, they give safety instructions,
you think safety instructions, this is, you know, do we need to unpack hires? You almost
do. And so they, they, they had diagrams on each of the table and they show that the outer ring that's created for the Viennese waltz is for the more skilled people that
moves a lot faster. And as you move towards the center, it's supposed to, the dancing is
slower and the less experienced people are there. So here I am, you know, trying to, you
know, and not step on this young woman's toes and she's, you know, fantastic dancer.
And so of course around the outer ring and you know, frankly keeping up without really
embarrassing myself, that that became a little bit of a challenge and she was very
gracious but a very memorable piece of that. You were asking me about the changes,
but that brought up another memory. So that's the advantage of this format. You get to
hear it all.

CV: Yea, we love to hear your stories. It’s great to hear.

JM: On the subject of change. You talked earlier about how your role as chancellor at the Viennese ball has decreased and how you enjoy that. Can you elaborate on what, what you did during the Viennese ball when you first came here and what you do now?

JS: So there used to be at the opening, there was a half hour opening ceremony before the choir spoke. And so people who chose to go, we're up in Viennese or in the Ojibwe
ballroom and many people don't realize the Viennese ball is really a fundraiser for
scholarships, music scholarships for some of the students who work at Davies and some
of the international programs that we do. And there are various scholarships in music
that piggyback that. And so each day, both Friday and Saturday, they bring all of these
students up to be presented. And so I was playing a little bit of an emceeing role. I'd give
official greetings and that was a part of that ceremony. Um, so that's important. And I
think some people enjoyed seeing the program as a benefit of it, but 90 plus percent of the people are really there because they just want to have a fun time. And so a couple
of years ago, and there used to be, and so there was a chancellor's dinner before the
Viennese Ball. So all of those student recipients and some of the people who work the
ball and like the volunteer community or committee came to this dinner and then we'd
go do this presentation. So now what they do is we only do that dinner Saturday night
and at the Saturday night dinner we would then recognize all the scholarship people and
we do that in a smaller group. And I think that's been a good change. It leaves more
time for people to enjoy the music of the ball instead of, nobody really came to hear me
talk. You know, there's plenty about if people really want to hear me talk, there's plenty
of other places. Yea so.


JM: Absolutely, so outside of attending the Viennese ball, what's your involvement
with the Viennese ball in terms of the setup or inviting people or funds for it, if you
could elaborate on that.

JS: Sure. And so, you know, like most great amounts, I have almost nothing to do with
them. You know, and it's because we have great people here and this was a longstanding tradition. And they do a great job, typically members of the committee and meet with me, you know, a few weeks out from the ball to kind of let me know what some of the changes that are going or what to expect. You know, they're good enough to ask for my feedback, you know, immediately after the ball and I give them feedback. Um, I really spend my time, I'm trying to make sure that, um, you know, I'm a little bit of an ambassador for the program, so I'm kind of like talking about it when I'm in the
community and I knew the night personally invite guests, you know, and other guests that we might include, might, you know, members of the board of regions that we've
had here. Maybe a few community leaders. Sometimes when there's someone new to
town and the community that have a high profile position that I think it'd be helpful. I
invite them to help get them acquainted. I try to make sure new administrators to the
university get a chance to make that connection. You know, you know, like a vice
chancellor for finance administration. You know, most people don't know who that is
and they wouldn't be in a position to have ever met that person. So making sure that
people, I think it helps inspire everyone in leadership positions who work at the
university to understand why they're really doing the work. You know, you think of
finance administration and it's still about their own. It's like a donor. It's about them
being inspired to work hard and make sure that our faculty and students have the
resources they need. And I think this is a great way to continually bring the attention
back to the student. Everything we do here needs to leave back to the experience and
you certainly want your finance person to understand the importance of it because it'd
be easy to say how much is it costing us? How much is really going back in the
scholarship and start looking at it only from a dollars and cents perspective. And much
of what we do at the university is hard to quantify. You know, earlier in this talk I spent a
lot of time talking about all of the intangible benefits that I don't think, you know, 95%
of the students who were there or alums that were there, I'll bet many of them can't
verbalize that added advantage they got, you know, people spend a lot of time talking
about what's the value of a college education and is it worth it? And I'll get people who
will say we shouldn't build a new science building. We don't need buildings cause all going to be online and, and what I, what I've told people, I'm like there's a role for
online education. It provides access to people who couldn't otherwise managed to go to
college. It can be a single parent, it could be a working adult. It can be someone that
lives in a remote environment that can't get to a university. So there is a rule for that,
but there is always going to be a role for a more traditional college if there, maybe it
won't be as many of us around, but we're an 18 to 22 year old is here. Yes, classes are
important. So do go to classes, work hard your classes. But the educational environment
is also about discovering other things about yourself, learning how to work differently
with people, work in teams. And this is one of these things that people often don't think
of. You know, sometimes I'll run into a college grad from here or somewhere else. Like
oh I had a history degree and I never used it. I'm like, well just because you weren't a
historian doesn't mean you weren't using history degree. And sometimes I'll ask them
questions. Well yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess I did that. Yeah. Critical thinking. Yeah. And I
use that and I'm like, okay, just remember there is something, you know, after all, you
know, if some, our library is open to the public, you can go to our library. It's been four
years reading books and you will learn a lot. But there's this other whole dimension and
it's a particularly important for young adults to have this kind of environment. This is
where they're establishing independence, how people find themselves and
understanding these relationships. It's a big piece of going to college.

CV: Well you talked a lot about impact on students and their experience here at this
university. Do you see the V-ball changing in the future in ways that it can impact the student even more or just the V-ball itself going to be even bigger than what it is right

JS: That's a great question. And the answer is it sure could. You know, I need to point out
that most of these really land life transforming experiences come down to the
leadership of a, of a small group of people and them going above and beyond. Yeah. And
some people have this as a part of their job, but it's about them being able to think
more broadly and to do that, I mean, you look at, one person with the Blugold marching band in a Randy Dickerson now going to be up to 430 students. He did that, he decided this was worth the effort. You know, you look at what Bob Barker does with, you know, all these jazz bands. So it's often coming down to one or a small group of leaders or you know, that could help them see this happen. But and I hadn't actually thought about it. So I really love your question. And so immediately as you were talking through the question, I was thinking about yeah, what are, what are the things we could do around the ball that would, would be useful? Is there, is there a larger venue that we would one day decide to who knows, maybe when we build the sun and tag events complex that that allows for even a broader participation for it. This notion I'd really, you know doing more around frankly dance lessons and they're already a student group that does that. You know, maybe there are pieces of the Viennese ball that go out and give a little sample of some of that in area schools and that really is happening in other formats but maybe not immediately connected back to the Viennese Ball. Um, but thinking and some of my earlier comments is how do we emphasize some of the, the multigenerational things more. I mean, there's a number of people who've probably been coming to the ball for 40 years and because of that they're now in their eighties and you're doing it. But you know, what kind of outreach have we done to really try to be even more intentional about having some of those experiences? So I'm going to ponder that one. Thank you for asking that.


JM: Well, before we wrap it up, is there anything that we didn't cover or anything
you'd like to gloss over before we go?

JS: You should consider going both nights. And you know, I think every college student
should go, I think alums should come back to it. I have to tell you, the first year they had
to throw me out, they were shutting lights out. They said chancellor, it's really time to
go home. I've never made it to the late night breakfast, but I, I'm constantly, as they're
shutting down one area, I'm hurrying and I was, we left the main ballroom Saturday
after one o'clock, and I took the elevator down, my wife's feet were sore and she was in
heels and didn't want to come down the steps and the door opened up and the, the a
Polka band was still blaring loud and I forgot the name of the sign that it was, but as a
pretty well known song and I'm like, oh good. We don't have to go home. Yeah, that's
what he said is that getting off the elevator with students. Um, now I slept pretty well
that night after two nights of being there. Bur take it all in. And I would tell every college
student, you know, don't work so many hours while you're in college. I am one, I don't
like loans, but I'd rather have you take a little bit of loan money than working more than
15 or 20 hours a week. And I say this from my own experience. When I was in college, I
was afraid of debt and so I had an actual 40 hour week job for two and a half years while
I was going to college. I worked for a trucking firm and they let me come in and go at all hours of the day and full health benefits. I mean there was a full time job and then I quit
towards the end of my junior year and I realized what I was missing out of. So my
feedback to students who might be hearing this is the same feedback I give to
prospective students when they come to campus to tour. I say if you're here for 120
credits and a piece of paper, you've come to the wrong place because you get that
easier somewhere else. Cause we're rigorous here. But don't forget the other part of
college is what you want to put into it. You, you know, I know you'll hear it's the best
time of your life. I, you know, you've all heard you get out of it, which you put in it all
these little truisms, but get outside your comfort zone. Do something that wouldn't, you
wouldn't think would be something you'd like, you know, you'd say to frankly a lot of
men in particular, and I'm generalizing, I apologize, the idea of going to a ball sounds
either intimidating or doll. The Viennese ball is neither. It is a lot of fun. And I've talked
to every student I could go up to at the ball, I ask if this is their first year. You can kind of
see it in their eye and everyone when I ask if they're going to, oh yeah, I can't believe it
took until my junior year to get here. So I don't know, maybe we need to make it to
graduation requirement cause there's a few, there's a few of these experiences as a
Blugold that everyone should take with them.

JM: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time from Charlie and I, and we really
appreciate, uh, you being able to block out some of your time to talk to us about the
Viennese ball today.

JS: Happy to do it. See you next April at the Ball.

JM: Yes. Thank you.

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