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Remembering the Simpler Times and Other Life Stories

Remembering the Simpler Times and Other Life Stories

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A major weather front passed through our area the other night, bringing lots of rain, thunder, and lightning. I don’t consider myself a light sleeper, but whenever the rain falls hard or the thunder roars resoundingly close, I wake up. The storm didn’t end until late in the morning.

When I was a young boy, thunderstorms fascinated me. I was warned by my parents to take shelter if I was outside and a storm came up with thunder and lightning, so I was aware of the danger of a powerful storm.

However, my strongest memories are not from massive lightning bolts stretching jaggedly across the sky or a simultaneous thunderclap and lightning bolt seemingly taking out the house across the street or the tree in the backyard. More vividly, I recall the silence from outside after the thunder and lightning passed by, the slowing patter of raindrops, and the decidedly different scent from outside as a result of the ozone created by the storm.

The house that I grew up in did not have air conditioning. There was an art to adjusting the opening of the window in those days, depending on the outside temperature and the time of the day. Evenings were cooler than the daytime and depending on the time of the year, you might have to close the window if the temperature dropped too low late at night.

In the middle of the summer, the windows were open and you were always hopeful for a breeze to move air around the room. During storms, you might close the bottom half of the window and open the window from the top; the storm window reduced the chance of the rain coming through the screen if the window was opened from the bottom.

The widespread adoption of central air conditioning reduced the numbers of us who learned the art of using windows to regulate inside temperatures. If my adult daughters are aware of the post-thunderstorm scent from fresh ozone, it is only from their experiences outdoors and not inside our house or their apartments, all of which are air-conditioned.

After the storm the other night and the flood of repressed memories, I plan to go outside and sit on my porch the next time a storm rolls through. If it’s a warm summer night, I will probably hear the noises from the crickets and bullfrogs breaking the rhythmic patter of the rain. If I’m lucky, I’ll smell the fresh ozone in the air and once again, experience a rush of memories from those younger and simpler times.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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