One day last spring, sometime between my being selected a finalist for the Mines presidency and visiting the campus, a surprise FedEx box arrived at our home in Arizona. It was filled with the first Mines gear Elyse and I had ever seen: hats, pins, t-shirts, a tie (the only tie I ever wear, when I wear a tie), a pennant, the Mines history book, and a stuffed Blaster. Dividing up the gear was pretty straightforward and peaceful—until we came to Blaster. I won’t tell you who won that “discussion,” but I will say that I had to get online and order a second one quickly to maintain peace in the house.
Maybe you first saw Blaster’s likeness on Mines gear like we did, or perhaps you first saw him in person at a Mines event. In either case, many of you probably experienced that instant connection to Blaster that Elyse and I did. He’s the embodiment of our mining history and a symbol of the strong work ethic and perseverance that we value so deeply. Being a burro, Blaster is intelligent and a hard worker, and with his full pack, pick ax, and stick of dynamite, he is ready for action. In person, Blaster attracts young and old, and he can surprise you with his speed (as I personally discovered running with Blaster and Blue Key down the sideline at last year’s Homecoming game). To quote the President’s Distinguished Lecturer and celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who spoke at Mines last fall, Blaster “is one badass burro!”
We all share great pride in our rich Mines heritage and identity. That comes out strongly when I meet students, parents, and alumni—often in unexpected settings (e.g., on planes, in restaurants, at conferences, in stores, etc.). Blaster is one symbol of that pride and heritage, as are the “M” and our cherished traditions such as E-Days. The triangle and Earth, Energy, Environment tagline are newer symbols that tie our history to our future and proclaim our leadership in areas critical to society.
I hope to share that Mines pride with you and hear about your experiences and thoughts for Mines’ future when we meet in Houston, the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Coast, and the Middle East this spring. From the Class of 1935 through the Class of 2019, we are all part of the Mines family and invested in the continued success of this great institution. The Mines spirit is alive and well, on campus and around the world.
Paul C. Johnson
P.S. The first stuffed Blaster rode on the dash of our car as Elyse and I drove from Arizona to Golden, and we think of him as our good luck charm. On most days, that Blaster sits in the middle of the conference table in my office, along with a cherished second one presented to me by Blue Key. He makes occasional cameo appearances outside of my office—most recently sitting on the podium at December’s commencement ceremonies.