By Bruce Fox, forestry professor, faculty senate president and father 

In about a month or so, my life will undergo two rather marked and related changes.

First, my wife and I will send our two children off to college. Our daughter will return for her junior year as a Lumberjack here at NAU studying education, and our son heads off to become a Sun Devil at Arizona State, majoring in film studies and math.

Thousands of families will also send their students off to college here at NAU and at ASU, as will millions of families nationwide.

Scores of millions of families have had this experience over time. Nothing new or particularly uncommon. But it is for my wife and for me. These are OUR children and we want them to be treated as the unique, and of course wonderful, individuals they are. This brings me to the second major change in my life.

In August I start my 31st fall semester here at NAU, and I look forward to it with mixed emotions.  I will enjoy the interactions with the students and having a chance to get into the field, literally. But I don’t look forward to all the committee work.

So, how do these relate?

For more than 4,000 students this is their first fall semester at NAU, and all of our students—from those in their first year to doctoral candidates–bring their unique life stories to us, just as my two children do.

As the semester begins, I must remind myself that although I have started 30 fall semesters here, our students have not. So, I need to rewind four-plus decades and try think back to my college days and how much I enjoyed being treated as a unique individual. Then I need to remember to treat all the students at least as well as I was treated as an undergraduate—with the expectation that my children’s professor will do the same. After 31 years, maybe I’ve gotten the hang of this….