Looking back, looking ahead during another April at The Woods

Donating a copy of the 1952 Reagan speech to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

If you remember the mid-1980’s, you might recall the movie “Back To The Future.”

It is a delightful film about a teenager named Marty McFly who goes back in time 30 years with the aid of a time machine. While spending some time in the 1950’s, he finds himself struggling to ensure that his own parents actually meet and fall in love, because if they somehow do not, history will be forever altered. And then Marty McFly would not, you know, actually exist.

As another momentous academic year culminates this month with a typically jam-packed April, it has been a time of both looking back at our history as a university and looking ahead to our future, and even more than normal during this April of 2024. One reason is because of a fascinating event we held on campus earlier this month called Reagan at The Woods.

Of course, unlike the main character’s adventure in Back To The Future, a time machine has not yet been invented. But on April 9th, the University community got as close to experiencing one as possible when we played an extremely rare recording of Reagan’s 1952 commencement address at William Woods in public for the first time ever, at an event at Dulany Auditorium. This extremely rare Reagan artifact, which had been preserved on two vinyl record albums and only discovered on campus in the 1990’s, had been in demand by historians and authors for decades. But it wasn’t until this month, nearly 72 years after it was delivered on a warm Spring day alongside Senior Lake, that is was made public. And the story isn’t over yet – next up, we will be officially donating the recording to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, so that this amazing piece of Reagan, and William Woods, history, will be forever accessible to all.

In contrast, this month of April brought with it an exciting, ongoing reminder of our future. Any drive or stroll through the northern entrance to campus the past few weeks has included the awesome sight of earth-movers and work crews transforming what was an ordinary soccer field into what will be a multi-purpose sports complex, ready to house the first football teams in William Woods history beginning this Fall. Football at The Woods, with a traditional autumn Homecoming for the first time ever! It is a transformational change at the university we love, and it is in our near future.

All of this is not to overlook the traditional exercises of April, both of which emphasize looking back (Alumni Weekend) and ahead (Commencement, and anticipating what our graduates will accomplish in their careers and lives). There they are again, those words – history and the future – that will serve as the foremost themes of this memorable Spring of 2024 at The Woods.

Months like this one are what help make the William Woods experience so unique. We have a great history to celebrate, and an even more exciting future. Our story and legacy as a university are, as Marty McFly might say, timeless. 

Go Owls!