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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 September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 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. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as 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, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. 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. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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