Party at the President’s

It’s not every day that students can lounge around in their president’s home, but University President Dr. Randy O’Rear may be more open to guests than people assume.

O’Rear and his family revealed their new home to students Sept. 28. The Campus Activity Board organized the event to showcase the newly completed structure.

The president’s old house has become the Musick Alumni Center and Museum. The new house, located on University Drive, was completed in time for the fall 2010  semester.

After the open house, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was shown on a screen on the lawn.

O’Rear was eager to share his living space with students.

“We wanted to have them over and enjoy some good food and fellowship. The house is very student friendly and designed to entertain lots of different groups and folks, but especially students. You see the media room and the game room and the outdoor areas, it’s just a wonderful home,” he said.

Students enter the O’Rear house on University Drive Sept. 28. Guests toured the new residence, visited with friends and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on the front lawn. This is the beginning of a new tradition for the university. Photo by Evan Duncan

Neither O’Rear nor his wife, Julie, minded the people walking through their living room.

“Well I think that’s why we are here,” O’Rear said. It’s not our house. It’s the university’s house and it’s our home. We are here to serve students.”

Sophomore Kendra Horton was most impressed by “the bigness of it all.”

“The media room is really great,” she said “I loved the lighted letters.”

The letters spell out UMHB and glow in vibrant purple and gold in the darkened media room as they sit above a built-in microwave. Soft theater style lighting was the only other source of light, other than the glow of the massive screen, the focal point of the room.

The backyard was another visitor favorite. Groups gathered as the sun dipped over the horizon and glimmered off Nolan creek as it crawled by.

“It’s a wonderful setting,” O’Rear said. “The thing I like most is the convenience of it being on campus. But when you walk in that door and you come out here in the back, you could be 100 miles away from a college campus.”

The backyard may be an escape from university life, but the interior is filled with UMHB symbols.  Beyond the glowing lights, relics of past and present riddle the house.

A large university steeple symbol adorns the bathroom wall. Even the retaining walls around the trees in the front resemble large U’s. Students gathered at the symbols as they found them a sort of ad hoc “I Spy” game.

The tours weren’t all access, however, as student ambassadors welcomed guests and also made sure no one invaded the family privacy. It’s all in a day’s work for senior cell biology major and ambassador Josh Gibson.

“Whenever Dr. O’Rear needs us, whether it’s here or at an event, we are there,” he said.

Gibson joked that the ambassador role is often like that of the Secret Service.

“We don’t get the cool ear pieces though,” he said. “But it’s a work in progress.”

The students certainly felt right at home. One pair even brought their own couch to the party for the movie. The seats were filled with nacho bearing students as the opening credits rolled.  O’Rear looked on with pleasure.

“We accomplished several things with this house,” he said, “but the most important was for students to come here and feel welcome and comfortable.”

Author: Evan Duncan

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