TITLE: An Unexpected Opportunity AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 17, 2007 5:02 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I had to drive to Des Moines for a luncheon today. Four hours driving, round-trip, for a 1.25-hour lunch -- the things I do for my employer! The purpose of the trip was university outreach: I was asked to represent the university at a lunch meeting of the Greater Des Moines Committee, in place of our president and dean. The luncheon was valuable for making connections to the movers and shakers in the capital city, and for talking to business leaders about computer science enrollments, math and science in the K-12 schools, and IT policy for the state. The lunch speaker, Ted Crosbie, the chief technology officer of Iowa, gave a good talk on economic development and the future of the state's technology efforts. But was it all worth four hours on the road? Probably so, but I will give a firm Yes, for an unexpected reason. A couple of minutes after I took my seat for lunch, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (1983-1999) sat down at our table. He struck up a nice conversation. Then, a couple of minutes later, former Iowa Governor Robert Ray (1969-1983) joined us. Very cool. I was impressed at how involved and informed these retired public officials remain in the affairs of the state, especially in economic development. The latter is, of course, something of great importance to my department and its students, as well as the university as a whole. Then on the drive home, I saw a bald eagle soar majestically over a small riverbed. A thing of beauty. -----