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One of the appealing aspects of being involved with a university, in whatever capacity, are the exciting outside presentations that are recurrently available. The challenge, of course, is that far more is presented than what time typically allows. As with many colleagues, my schedule limits opportunities more than I would like, or forces a brief appearance rather than full enjoyment.

All that said, the climate is still exhilarating. This week — just to take things that I found particularly interesting, though I could not attend them all — we had a major panel on the future of journalism and an exceptionally varied program on the nature of revolutions. A senior Chinese politician and peace leader offered a reassuring take on developments in that part of the world that raised some attendant questions. And one of this year’s co-sharers of the Nobel Peace Prize, Tawakkul Karman from Yemen, gave a rousing presentation to a bursting-at-the-seams room in Mason Hall (and, I’m told, she said she would like to come back). This was a particularly moving, as well as informative, experience.

Of course, international presentations are often interesting in terms of what’s not said as well as what is.  (This is true of domestic versions as well, but we’re more familiar with the formats involved.)  So it’s good when there are opportunities for questions – as in the discussion of Yemen – and good as well when audiences have opportunities to participate in the ensuing discussion.

All of this is just a reminder to myself, if no one else. University life may seem humdrum at times, but at its best, it offers a truly exciting panorama. And a brief institutional horn-toot: Mason has some particular good fortune in this category because of our location and the attraction posed by our diverse community. And our fare becomes steadily richer, with encouraging improvements as well in the sheer size of our audiences. It’s a good trend.