In a span of about 20 hours, I have visited the two places on the University of Tennessee campus in which, with the possible exception of my dorm rooms, I spent the most time as an undergraduate: Thompson-Boling Arena, where the basketball happens, and McClung Tower, where the rhetoric and literature (and all the humanities, for that matter) happen. Last night we went to the women's game against Arkansas, and this afternoon I did a little talk on my research in my old department.
Both the arena and the central part of campus have undergone significant changes: the arena has all new seats, and a main thoroughfare that runs by McClung tower got transformed into a pedestrian-only walkway. At the game last night, I recognized several of the media and facilities staffers working on the main floor, and half the coaching staff remains the same, with Holly Warlick and Pat Summitt still going strong. Today, I recognized some of my old professors in and around McClung and chatted with them briefly.
This seemed to be the obverse of so many other places I know where the people come and go while the structures go on unchanged. And yet somehow the continuities are as reassuring as the new seats and bricks are lovely.