THE DISTANCE EDUCATION ANNEX

I originally wrote this in April 2017 to submit to Broken Eye Books' "Welcome to Miskatonic University" anthology, then promptly forgot to send it in. 


Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for joining me for your freshman orientation here at the Distance Education Annex. Please help yourself to the coffee and snacks over there at the table. No donuts, I'm afraid, but it should be enough to get you through the tour. Has everyone signed in? Very well then, if you'll just follow me we'll begin the tour. Right this way past the offices. I'm sure you all noticed when you came in, but this is where you'll meet with advisors. They can help you plan your semesters, make sure you're on track for graduation, tell you about opportunities you might not be aware of… For example, did you know that we offer study abroad programs? Indeed, there are some amazing travel opportunities for you here. If you're pursuing our historic structure preservation program, work credit at Exham Priory in England may be of interest to you. We also have a superb sequence on taxidermy that will take you all the way to the Congo basin. Who needs the main campus when you have the Distance Education Annex, eh?

The Distance Education Annex was, of course, first founded in 1964 to teach technical skills not covered in the standard Miskatonic curriculum, and while we've... expanded since then, we don't take our past for granted. See -- here we are in the original Vocational Studies building, still as sturdy as the day we opened. From that first class over 50 years ago to today, the Distance Education Annex prides itself on being the destination for hands-on learning. Take our air-conditioner repair school, for instance. It's one of the best in the country -- directed by Professor Williams, who studied under the late, great Dr. Muñoz in New York. Feel that chill? You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone better qualified. Zip those hoodies up and just keep walking this way.

Ah, yes, now how many of you are enrolled in our mortuary science program? Two, three, four… A sizable handful of you this year. Well, you've clearly done your research, because the Distance Education Annex is very competitive in that field. You'll find that we take a more... holistic approach than some other higher education institutions. To be the best, we know that it takes both a bold march forward towards innovation as well as a keen insight into history. Under those guiding principles, you'll learn the very latest skills and techniques, and practice on the best and most advanced equipment available. You'll be under the watchful eyes and guiding hands of our peerless faculty, like Dr. Cain. Indeed, you'll be pushing the very boundaries of mortuary science here at the Distance Education Annex.

As I said, however, we look both to the future and the past at the Distance Education Annex. So while you'll learn all that the inestimable Dr. Cain has to offer, you'll also drink deeply from the well of history under the tutelage of Dr. Allen. In fact, here he is now. Good day, Dr. Allen. Don't let his youthful appearance fool you, students -- Dr. Allen's knowledge of the past is so thorough, you'll swear he'd been there himself. Though his primary field of teaching regards archaic methods of preservation, I think you'll find his command of historic life quite impressive. In fact, he has been known to regale a few students with little-known facts about their own ancestors! Here at the Distance Education Annex, the faculty is full of surprises.

I see a few of you are noticing some rather enticing smells as we round this corner here -- let's just poke our heads in and see what Professor Shadrach is cooking up, shall we? This is our culinary studies area, and as you can see Professor Shadrach keeps a well appointed larder.  Say now, Professor, what's that you're cooking up now that smells so aromatic? I'm sorry? What's this about your engine? Ah, of course, Indian - I thought I smelled curry and coconut. Why yes, these are the new students, fresh in for orientation. Never you worry, Professor, I'm sure they'll cross your table soon enough. Now, come along everyone, let's leave the good chef to his victuals and be on our way…

Here we have our recreation area, adjoined to the dining hall. We may not have all the space of the University, but we find that just provides for more personal connections to be made here at the Distance Education Annex. Naturally, it is our duty to make sure you have a place to relax, study, and meet up with fellow students. In addition to the various student-led clubs and organizations, there are a number of special events put on by the staff and faculty of the Distance Education Annex. You'll want to be sure not to miss the Yuletide festival; there's something of a masquerade, and a rather indescribable vacation has been awarded to a lucky few. Now, if you'll please continue following me…

Right through these doors, yes. I'm sorry, was there a question in the back? No, no, there's no music program at the Distance Education Annex. The piping is simply something you'll get used to. Yes, just through here. Watch your step, now, it can be rather hard to catch your breath out here. The elevation and all. Now, I hope by now you've seen that for all the refinement of the University, there are more than a few points where we surpass them. We may not have their library, but do they have this prime location on the Plateau? Do they have the Cold Wastes just outside their back door? I assure you, they do not. The opportunities for learning, dear students, is fathomless. Ah, yes, another question? Unseasonable snow? I suppose it is rather cold, yes, but I assure you: you'll grow used to it in time. Now, if you'll step this way, towards that cube-shaped tower. I believe it's just about time to formally welcome you into the Distance Education Annex.