More than 100 well wishers gathered at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the Fiesta Room to say goodbye to Ben Newhouse, assistant director of campus and community involvement at Trinity.
Newhouse, whose last day is today, accepted the position of dean of students at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.
A palpable bittersweet energy filled the room during a ceremony that blended heartfelt tributes with gentle jibes and anecdotes.
Before the proceedings began senior Kara Shervanick held a box of tissues and wept openly, laughing at her early display of emotion. Shervanick said she has known Newhouse her entire career at Trinity, from working at the information desk in Coates to participation in the Residential Life staff to her time with the orientation team known as O-Team.
“He’s been through everything with me,” Shervanick said. “He has helped me through some of the roughest times in my life.”
Director of CCI, Jamie Thompson, began and led the proceedings, quickly handing off the microphone to David Tuttle, dean of students.
Tuttle started with a couple lighthearted jokes at Newhouse’s expense but soon acknowledged Newhouse for his work ethic and good nature.
“We will all miss the very personal qualities that he brings to his work,” Tuttle said, before handing Newhouse a gift.
Following Tuttle’s address was a witty presentation by Carolyn Bonilla, Edwin Blanton and Katharine Martin, all of CCI. It was a mock memo written to the staff Newhouse will oversee in his new role. Tips were given to better understand his “madness”, including: simply attaching the word “flash” to an event to attract Newhouse and also his “unnatural” love of tea.
Next, Soi Inthavong, Briana McGlamory and Amy Johnson of CCI presented Newhouse with a new CCI t-shirt, a stamp of his signature and a caricature of himself from Coates Caper.
John Greene, director of facility services, opened the personal tribute portion of the event with a gift of an iconic Trinity brick, so that Newhouse has a literal piece of the school with him at all times. Other students regaled tearful onlookers with their stories of Newhouse and how he made their time at Trinity unique and unforgettable.
Christopher Miller, a senior and transfer student to Trinity, said, “If I had to name one person that made Trinity University feel like home, it would be Ben.”
Sophomore Jessica Pagano said she met Newhouse her first year but bonded with him during her time on O-Team this fall.
“My favorite memory of him is when he dressed up in the tiger suit at Coates Caper. That was hilarious,” Pagano said.
Other speakers, both faculty and students, called Newhouse an inspiration and repeatedly remarked that he brought out the best in them.
Just as the tone of the farewell was becoming somber, performances by the Trinitones and Acabellas were dedicated to Newhouse, who had a great love for these organizations, even participating in Happy Friday concerts in the past. selected songs included: “Cecilia”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Waiting on the World to Change”, “Valerie” and “My Wish.” The crowd joined in and clapped along to the anthems. Sam White, a junior and member of the Trinitones, comically serenaded Newhouse in a solo.
Ending the proceedings was Newhouse himself, who called the presentation a “great, wonderful and odd farewell.”
Newhouse, who completed his undergraduate education at Trinity, said the decision to leave was difficult but a necessary one for him and his wife Sarah. He referenced a time seven years ago when he fell ill and was hospitalized. Newhouse remembers the Trinity community taking care of his wife during his stay.
“To me,” Newhouse said, “that is Trinity and it captures why I will miss this place so much.”
Although he is sad to leave San Antonio and the students and staff of Trinity, Newhouse said he is excited for new adventures at Birmingham-Southern.
In a heartfelt closing, Newhouse offered some final pieces of wisdom.
“You are fantastic people,” he said to the crowd. “You are loved and a beautiful part of my time here. You have made this a very hard place to leave. I take a part of you with me and that’s what will make this next place home.”