The calendar might indicate that we are in the middle of summer, but our Viking volleyball team returns to campus on July 31, which is a sure sign that fall is rapidly approaching. Following a summer of camps and conferences, our residence halls are being prepared to welcome our students home. Opening traditions will be upheld, and related events are being planned, including new faculty and staff orientation, the Viking Family Welcome Back Picnic, several new- and returning-student events, and a brand-new event: the Valley City Welcome Window Project and Back to the City Night on August 24.I am very excited about this new welcome back tradition spearheaded by Jackie Owen, VCSU Faculty Association president, and Sarah Larsen, our Staff Senate president. Jackie and Sarah want to ensure that our campus community is well acquainted with and appreciative of our city partners—especially the businesses on Central and Main that are so intentionally connected to campus by the beautiful footbridge. Jackie and Sarah’s mission: to create a big, bold, visually old-fashioned welcome throughout our city.The project includes two phases: the Welcome Window Project and the Back to the City Night. The Welcome Window Project involves local businesses painting their storefront windows. The goal is to provide an old-fashioned welcome for our students (especially our incoming students), the kind that says we’re glad you’re back, we appreciate you, and we hope you will get to know our businesses and think of Valley City as your city. Simple, yet impactful!The Welcome Window Project will run from August 16–24 and conclude with the Back to the City Night when VCSU students, faculty, and staff will meet on the VCSU side of the footbridge and walk “Back to the City” to meet business owners and check out the many things our city offers. For more information about these events, please feel free to contact Jackie (email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sarah (email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org) directly.I am really excited about this event and the opportunity to enhance the relationships between “town and gown”— just like we do every day through the Gaukler Family Wellness Center, churches, internship experiences, participation with local service organizations, and more. Let me give a special thank you to Natalie and Doreen Sayler at Central Avenue Pharmacy, who immediately embraced the idea and are busy planning ways to engage students inside the store August 24; Damon at Bong’s Bootery, who responded to our inquiry with “It’s a terrific project”; Mary Lee Nielson of the Quilted Ceiling for suggesting we make a large template of a Viking to make the stenciling of the logo easier; Dean at Valley Officeworks, who reminded our team that he is the go-to person for banners; Bryan Wolla at Blush Boutique, who immediately said, “I love the idea and am behind it 100%”; and Noelle at NuCara Pharmacy, who enthusiastically offered design ideas. Thank you, city leaders and business owners for your positive energy. Community is a word that describes the quality of relationships, and our town shines bright in this regard.I also wish to thank Jackie and Sarah for embracing the idea, garnering enthusiasm, and nurturing this grass-roots pop-up event. Their success is a clear sign that our leadership this year will benefit the campus and the community greatly. One thing is for sure: August 24 will be another great day to be a Valley City business owner, community member, and, of course, a Viking!