Please be patient while I release a few personal feelings about Anderson, Indiana. I first came here from Pennsylvania as a graduate ministerial student at Anderson College in 1963. I never expected to stay in Indiana but, like so many others on the local campus over the generations, I found my way into the local culture and never left. I’m proud of many things about Anderson, but tired of one especially — too many of its people who see only the city’s downsides. Maybe Anderson isn’t Fishers or Fort Wayne, but it’s a good, good place in many ways.

Two personal experiences highlight some reasons for my gratitude. I developed cancer in 2011 and needed complex chemotherapy treatments. Sure, there are world-class facilities and doctors in nearby Indy. Still, I never left town. Dr. Ubaidullah Sharief, the Erskine Center, and the adjacent hospital had everything and did it all for me. Last week I had emergency gallbladder surgery. This time it was Anderson’s Community Hospital and Dr. Dwight “Ben” McCurdy, a first-class surgeon operating in a first-class surgical suite — again, local with nothing left to be desired. Nurses on most floors have earned local nursing degrees. One is my granddaughter Emily Callen. She was trained in one of the finest nursing programs in the entire Midwest (located on a pretty campus on Anderson’s east side).

I have tired of those who keep failing to appreciate Anderson High School. The educational, social, and pay challenges being faced by the teaching profession today are rarely understood by those not on the inside. Today’s student populations present challenges only the best professionals can hope to handle, and AHS has some of the best on the job anywhere. My wife Jan taught English at AHS for 34 years and now my son Todd for about a decade. Recently he won a national award for classroom creativity in the field of English. Great facilities, an award-winning marching band, and student/faculty success stories rarely publicized should add up to pride in AHS. Give it its due and soon it will be even better.

Rarely does a small city have an elite Christian university campus in its midst. Anderson does. Why its chosen name? In the 1980s the name became “Anderson University,” a deliberate move toward local identification and pride by a national institution determined to make significant educational, business, and cultural contributions to our city. Included as major campus spin-offs have been the Anderson Symphony Orchestra, the Flagship Center, Reardon Auditorium, and for many years the Indianapolis Colts. No apologies needed. Quality is quality. I was privileged to serve this campus as a faculty member and administrator for nearly four decades.

I’m full of gratitude for an imperfect but nonetheless great city. Jan and I recently built a new home in Anderson using a local firm, Mustin. They were great. We’re here to stay. Want a relatively inexpensive place to live, with easy interstate access to about anything? Want to live among some of the finest people you’ll find anywhere? Want a place that’s survived a huge industrial departure (not its own fault) and now has moved on with Nestle, Hoosier Park, and more on the way? That’s only a sampling, but enough. The place is Anderson in central Indiana. It’s a good, good place!

Dr. Barry L. Callen is Vice-President for Academic Affairs Emeritus, Anderson University.

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