There is nothing quite like the feeling of losing a star player. Many of us have been there, standing in front of the television watching a press conference where a favorite ball player — whose jersey you never wash and whose trading cards are in plastic sleeves in your desk drawer — announces their new team affiliation.
As the Index Editorial Board, we would like to say this was exactly how many of us felt Monday morning when University President Troy Paino’s email arrived in inboxes across campus. The initial disbelief at the sudden announcement is reminiscent of when Albert Pujols, former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, left the Cardinals during 2011.
Just like estranged Cardinals fans, many students across campus who have T-shirts and bro-tanks with the words “T-Pain is my home boy” scrawled across them now find their star player soon will be moving to a different team.
Part of the shock of a beloved member of a team moving on always comes with the big question — “Why?” After catching up with Paino earlier this week, it’s clear devotion to family is a major factor, as well as his concern for public liberal arts education.
Paino is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, a group that works to improve liberal arts education for students at schools such as Truman State. Looking back at interviews and State of the University addresses from past years, it’s clear Paino’s passion is liberal arts.
And while Truman was a great place for him to work toward the betterment of higher education and lead a university for the last six years, it seems that time was enough for him to move on.
He truly will be missed. While working toward those goals of improving Truman’s liberal arts education, T-Pain often has made us smile, whether by riding a tricycle during a winter break video or cheerfully greeting students at the Student Recreation Center.
However, as an institution, our fond memories of Paino will not be enough to prepare us for the road ahead. While there are many moving parts that make the University click, we know Paino very well as the face of Truman. He’s been something of a symbol for us, and losing Paino feels as if Truman is losing part of its identity.
Where there was once a figurehead will now stand a blank void of questions we probably won’t know the answers to until next semester. The important part here, however, is that this is not an insurmountable obstacle. Paino is not the only university president to ever survey campus from the top of McClain Hall. Although we might take a hit to our overall morale, we still will retain many invested individuals in our administration who, with dedication and time, can propel us through what is sure to be a tough transition period.
The future now seems much more uncertain than it did Sunday night, but it’s almost certainly not the first time Truman has experienced such change. We need only look back a short six years to see the last instance this position in the administration underwent such a change. Paino himself was the result of that time, and who knows what the next transition might bring? What is certain is the fact that Paino will be moving on to another opportunity, and we at Truman will have to move on, too.
We can only imagine what it must have felt like to click “send” on that email Monday morning, to close a chapter more than half a decade long and announce a serious, real intent to start a new one. Although it’s early and the sting from this breakup is still fresh in our hearts, we should start thinking about doing the same. It’s not as if we don’t see tough transitions like this on campus each semester — just look at the graduates who step across the stage and clutch their hard-earned diplomas, unsure of what tomorrow will bring. It’s as if Truman itself is in a similar position, but just like those graduates, we’ll look back on this moment months from now as we’re busy with our next task and be glad that just like Paino, we pursued our passion and came out on the other side with lessons that we’ll never forget. T-Pain — thanks for your service to Truman and best of luck with the next chapter.