Wednesday, August 09, 2006

University of Wisconsin-Madison -- July 2004

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, in my opinion, represents the best combination I've seen of aesthetics, blending of a university and town, and walkability. I visited "Mad-Town" twice in the late 1980s while I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan, and did not get back until 2004, when I attended an academic conference.

The central area of Madison is an isthmus, defined by the Wikipedia as "a narrow strip of land that is bordered on two sides by water and connects two larger land masses."

On one end of the isthmus is the Wisconsin State Capitol building and at the other, just blocks away, is the UW campus. Between the two is State Street, an automobile-free pedestrian mall. Here are some shots I took of the capitol and State Street.

When entering the campus via State Street, one encounters a traditional-looking quad, as seen in the bottom photo of the following set...

The little red arrow is pointing to the Wisconsin Historical Society, a straight-on view of which is shown directly above the arrow.

The little green arrow is pointing to the student union, a more direct shot of which is shown above that arrow. The back of the union faces Lake Mendota, one of the two bodies of water forming the isthmus. As can be seen, the union offers lakefront dining and entertainment (notice the stage).

The other body of water in the area is Lake Monona, where a lovely new conference center called Monona Terrace is located. One night at the conference, dinner was served in the glass-enclosed portion of the facility, then we had dessert up on the roof.

Note: I have added some new photos of the University of Wisconsin and the town of Madison from my recent (July-August 2007) visit, which are available here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Northwestern University -- August 2002

With my sister and other relatives living in the Chicago area, I visit the Windy City on a roughly annual basis. One thing I always try to do is get to the Evanston campus of Northwestern University.

Northwestern is one of the most paradoxical universities in the nation, in my view. It is an academic powerhouse, ranked No. 12 for overall undergraduate education by U.S. News & World Report, for example.

Yet, I expect many would agree that the facilities are not up to what would be expected for such a great institution. Much of the campus is beautiful, modern, or both. But, as you'll see in a photo below, some departments and programs are located in old houses across the street from the core campus. Even on the main campus, some buildings are not state of the art. Part of the problem may have to do with space -- being on the lakeshore, there is a physical limitation of land. In fact, the Evanston history page linked above notes that, "In the 1960s Northwestern expanded its property by constructing a 74-acre landfill, altering the Lake Michigan shoreline." I've also been told that some buildings have been designated as historic sites, thus preventing their removal or renovation.

With my background introduction now out of the way, here are some shots of the Northwestern campus. What better place to start than this gate, the symbolic, if not literal, entrance to the campus?

The campus also contains what, to my untrained eye, looks to be Gothic architecture.

The Department of Statistics, shown next, is but one of a row of house-based academic units spanning along Sheridan Road (another being the Institute for Policy Research).

Finally, as can be seen throughout this blog, many of my campus visits have a sports tie-in. When the above photos were taken in August 2002, collegiate competition would have been on summer vacation. I've visited Northwestern a couple of times since then, however, and during my May 2006 trip, I took in some softball action, photos of which are shown on my softball blog. Northwestern ended up finishing second in the nation at the 2006 NCAA Women's College World Series.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stanford University -- June 2003

As with my previous entry (below) on the University of Oregon, my trip to Stanford was in conjunction with a Track & Field News tour, to the 2003 USA national championships.

I've found when conversing with people about attractive college campuses that Stanford is frequently mentioned. The beige-brick style of the buildings, red-tile roofs (or is it "rooves"), and abundant use of arches give Stanford a very distinctive look, as shown in the following pictures (on which you can click to enlarge them).

Don't get me wrong -- Stanford's is a nice-looking campus. However, I did not feel mesmerized by the aesthetics and ambience. While visiting with a couple of my former Michigan psychology professors who had moved to Stanford, we agreed that Stanford did not have the "buzz" of energy and excitement that Michigan has. In large part, this is because the UM campus blends seamlessly with the Ann Arbor community, whereas Stanford's size and clear demarcation of its perimeter left me feeling distant from its Palo Alto surroundings.

A better parallel may be between Stanford and Texas Tech, where I'm on the faculty. No less an authority than Red Raider basketball coach Bob Knight, whose son Tim went to Stanford, told a story on Larry King Live (transcript) about how they thought the Texas Tech campus looked similar to Stanford's. You can judge for yourself (albeit based on a small number of photos) by comparing the Stanford shots in this entry to pictures of Texas Tech I posted in an earlier one.

This entry wouldn't be complete without a photo from the track meet, so here's one of Texas Tech's Jonathan Johnson in the men's 800 meters (second from the right, wearing red).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

University of Oregon -- June 2001

One of my favorite sports is track and field (for which, believe it or not, I don't have a blog). The magazine Track & Field News organizes tours to major meets, and I've gone on a few of them. One of the meets I went to with T&FN was the 2001 USA national championships, at the University of Oregon in Eugene. In fact, Eugene calls itself "Track Town USA," and there are establishments with names such as "Track Town Pizza." Here are some photos I took on that trip.

As is typical for the Northwest, UO's campus is very lush and green, with a mixture of old and new buildings (the photos below are kind of small, but you can click on them -- or any others -- to see a larger version).

On the athletic side, here's a picture I took at the meet. Leigh Daniel, a former student of mine at Texas Tech, is shown on the far left of the pack in the women's 10,000 meters.

More recent information on Leigh is available here and here.

I also went by the legendary McArthur Court, also known as "The Pit," which is the home of Duck basketball. It was open, so I went in. The seating area takes the form of overhanging decks. The only problem (as shown below right) is that the decks hang so low, the view from the lower level is obstructed. I'm all for tradition, but in the case of Oregon basketball, it's probably time for a new arena!