The most important part of tonight's education mixer isn't the food; it's welcoming new faculty members to Lawrence.
If the weatherman cooperates, tonight's "Taste of Lawrence" is sure to be a big success. The turnout in past years has been good, and the event provides an ideal opportunity for local residents to get together, exchange greetings after the summer vacation and sample food from many local restaurants.
The "mixer," however, is not what it used to be. It was started years ago with the idea of providing a means to introduce new KU faculty members to members of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. It was designed to help make these new residents feel welcome, become acquainted with local citizens and meet local city, county, public school and university officials.
Chamber members were assigned faculty members to bring to the gathering. At the mixer, local officials greeted the newcomers and welcomed them to Lawrence and KU. It was an ideal way for these new residents to meet local residents and learn about the city, its schools and government offices.
After a number of years, the invitation list expanded to include new teachers and faculty members from many schools. Short presentations by local officers were omitted and the affair turned into a food fair or "Taste of Lawrence."
Again, tonight's event is sure to have good attendance, but it has strayed from its original purpose.
In any event, welcome to the many new teachers in the Lawrence area as well as the many other new residents.
It's great to have you as part of Lawrence and your presence and involvement is sure to help Lawrence and the surrounding area become an even finer place in which to live, work and play.