“Swallowing the Pill,” by Mark J. Drozdowski

Jan 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Alumni,

Now that our fall semester is underway, I would like to take a moment to share with you my thoughts on what promises to be yet another remarkable year here at Pillston College.

Our year has begun auspiciously with the arrival of the Class of 2019. Some 180 strong, they represent five states and three foreign countries, including Canada. They are a heterogeneous group, our most diverse ever. In fact, only 92 percent are white, middle class, and hail from one of the three surrounding counties. Our enrollment management team’s efforts to reach out to new populations surely have paid dividends. Just walk around campus and you can see how diverse we’ve become. Our minority students really stand out.

First-year students are an academically talented bunch as well. The average high school GPA of the incoming class held steady at a solid 2.2, while SAT scores climbed slightly to 1,200, cresting 400 in the critical reading category for the first time. Members of the Class of 2019 include a former rodeo clown, a young lady who took ballet lessons until her junior year, six people who worked at Home Depot, an especially tall boy who once bowled a 277, nine supermarket baggers, three people who started their own blogs and one outstanding student whose letter to his local newspaper editor was actually published—on a Sunday. They all came to The Pill for one simple reason: to pursue a world-class education from a world-class faculty on a world-class campus. After all, we all know Pillston’s famous tagline: World-Beaters Beat a Path to Pillston!

Speaking of our faculty, we welcomed three new assistant professors this year. Michael Rowe, known to his colleagues as “Mack,” is an economist whose groundbreaking research focuses on trade sanctions between Papua New Guinea and the Maldives. His introductory course on herring futures should prove wildly popular. Anna Flactik, A.B.D., is a biologist specializing in allergy treatments. She also doubles as the college’s nurse on alternate Tuesdays. And Lyman Stone, a geologist who is considered the area’s foremost authority on phlogopite mica, has been considered for tenure at three of the Northeast’s most prestigious institutions. We were fortunate to have attracted these scholars from such an overcrowded marketplace of available talent.

Together they are helping to raise our academic profile and introduce new programs. We just launched our online GED completion program, which promises to create a pipeline for the region’s best and brightest. Concomitantly, we have created cutting-edge curricula in remedial math, reading, writing and personal finance. Thanks to our strategic planning process and our “Re-Engineering a Great Future” academic redistribution plan, we were able to jettison underutilized programs such as philosophy, art history and political science and redeploy resources to new and exciting ventures in game and app design, urban landscaping maintenance and massage therapy, hot fields in high demand by today’s students who wish to shed the yoke of traditional liberal arts requirements. Surely we at Pillston are not market-driven, but we certainly are market-responsive.

As we all know, great programs cannot succeed without great facilities. That is why we have invested so much in our campus infrastructure. We recently unveiled a state-of-the-art computer lab featuring the very best in netbook technology. We were fortunate to receive an in-kind donation of dot matrix printers from nearby Merdestorm Industries Inc., which also provides valuable internships for our waste management majors. Our health center, located in the basement of Scatman Hall, now has three stationary bikes, two treadmills, a full array of dumbbells and a boom box to accommodate students’ musical preferences. And we introduced Café Zelda, named for a generous benefactor whose estate gift enabled us to renovate a third-floor office in the library and establish a student-run coffee shop complete with a Keurig and seating for six.

Yes, campus pride has never been stronger at Pillston, as evidenced by the support of our athletic teams. The Cutworms continue to represent us well in NAIA intercollegiate competition. This season’s football campaign has gotten off to a promising start with a narrow 36-10 defeat against conference rival Callos College and a forfeit victory over the Sandbag Institute of Engraving (formerly Pete’s Plumbing Supplies). The basketball team hopes to build on last year’s momentum following a 2-22 season, and attendance should skyrocket now that the bleachers no longer get jammed halfway out from the gymnasium wall. This year we’ve introduced women’s diving as a club sport, and the Lady Cutworms have thus far accounted themselves well in home meets at Jiggler’s Pond.

All of our success could not be possible without support from you, our dedicated alumni, and I am most grateful for the outpouring of generosity from those who hold us dear. Last year, in fact, we set Pillston records with $79,600 in philanthropic gifts and a 4.27 percent giving rate—an astounding endorsement of our efforts here at the college. I trust we will continue to make you proud to call Pillston your alma mater, and I encourage you to join the 18 current fans on Facebook and our four followers on Twitter who eagerly anticipate quarterly news and updates.

I, too, am proud to be part of the Pillston family. In my five years as president, we have seen Pillston become a destination institution for a new generation of students who previously might have considered higher education beyond their capacity. We embrace the opportunity to provide them rigorous academic challenges, along with multiple loan options to finance their dreams. I look forward to leading Pillston to new heights and to realizing our board’s ambition to finally achieve accreditation and raise our bond rating to C. At Pillston, we all shoot for the stars.

Please continue to keep Pillston close to your heart, and wear the purple and red with pride. Should your errands bring you by campus, please do stop in and see what we have accomplished since your days here. Grab a bite at The Pill Box and chat with current students. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself as a result.

With best wishes,

M. Mitchell “Mitch” Mildoo, Ed.D.

Defenestration-Mark J. DrozdowskiMark J. Drozdowski is a writer, humorist, and aspiring pundit. He was a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education for nine years and currently writes a humor column, “Special Edification,” for Inside Higher Ed. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant, Writer’s Digest, and Salon, among other publications and websites. He blogs at drdroz.wordpress.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @drdroz.

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