Podford University History
Podford University: 1748-1840
Podford University, a prominent University in the larger academic landscape of our modern era was once, believe it or not, a mere twinkle in the eyes of prominent English humanitarian, magician, and founder Gerald Podford. Gerald Podford began life in 1702 as a mere twinkle in the eyes of his parents Ronaldo and Geraldina Podford who, too, were once mere twinkles in the eyes of their parents. Our story begins with Geraldina, Gerald’s mother. A brazen, accomplished parlor magician in her own right, the stage was set early for Gerald’s eventual career as friends and family alike learned that the apple does indeed land very near the tree. At the age of 6, it was said that Gerald was regularly making food, toys, and even furniture in the family’s modest Westchester home disappear for meager (and eventually pandering) applause from his father Ronaldo, an architect known for his stoic presence and inability to enjoy life.
Ronaldo’s lack of basic affection is said to be the catalyst for his only son’s vast catalogue of accomplishments. As Gerald grew into his teens, he sought the approval of friends, neighbors, and even accomplished magicians (whom he was often studying under) to fill the the void his father would not. Gerald was set to graduate from primary school in the spring of 1719 when his mother approached him with an envelope of quid. She urged him to run away from his father (as she intended to, too) and begin life anew, sharing his gift of magic with the world. It is said Gerald received this advice with much apprehension, knowing it would mean that the relationship he sought with his father would truly never materialize. He, however, proceeded with his mother’s suggestion and used his new fortune, albeit small, to begin teaching magic in an abandoned church in the northernmost tip of Northern UK, at the time known simply as the Northern Tip of North Great Britain. There, his following of pods (as they came to be known) learned the basics of magic including pulling rabbits out of hats, coins from behind ears, and eventually pianos from behind wagons. His skills in lecturing began to rival his skills in magic, easily depicted by his ability to praise his students for their progress along with his reserve in doling praise when they hadn’t earned it; a tormenting but helpful ramification of his time growing up.
In his late 30s, now brimming with a wealth of experience in academics, magic, and loyal subjects, Gerald decided he would begin saving money to expand his teaching ambitions beyond the abandoned church. In the fall of 1740, Gerald began the first ever documented crowdfunding campaign, ripe with stretch-goals and everything. He spent the next 4 years of his life generating well over a hundred thousand quid - an amount necessary to fund the construction of a massive campus of beautiful buildings to fill with hungry souls looking to learn the art of magic from one of the most prominent figures of the era.
Gerald amassed a fortune through his crowdfunding campaign, promising a myriad of backer rewards to his subjects including personalized merchandise (another first in the academic space) and free tuition for a year. This, however, was a time of much political and civil unrest and so Gerald found himself at the center of an impossible decision: wether to invest his fortune in a volatile Brittish market or try his hand at the newly colonized lands across the pond? It was in 1744 that Podford decided to set sail for America. He and his legion of magicians boarded the aptly named Santa Podmia, a weathered wooden vessel fit only for peasants and yet through sheer will-of-heart and a little magic, the Podmia landed in Boston harbor after a grueling three month voyage. Many of the students had died of scurvy and other cliche sea-faring illnesses, but Gerald remained healthy throughout the trip. He mourned the losses endured during the voyage by holding a vigil in their new homeland and charging a cover fee for attendees. The vigil was advertised as a “Blinding Spectacle of Respect for the Deceased and Magic.” It was at this vigil that Gerald’s fame truly grew from foreign legend to prominent global academic mastermind as he and his remaining subjects dazzled onlookers with card tricks and disappearing pianos. He used the vigil revenue and the crowd-funded campaign to fund the construction of the now legendary Podford University campus from 1745-1748 just in time for a grand opening in the same year as the school’s completion. It is said that Gerald, in secret, spoke with his father by raven about many of the school’s architectural decisions, explaining many of the marvels hidden within the school’s construction and the reason Gerald was alleged to remain at peace through his later years.
Gerald Podford led the school in the role of Head Dean Wizard (a unique moniker not used at other universities, but one that felt appropriate considering his pedigree) adopting many additional academic pursuits along the way such as mathematics, music, and fish. During his twilight years in the early 1800s, sustaining only on the love of his students (and some say just a little bit of magic), Gerald knew it was time to appoint a new Head Dean Wizard. He wanted someone to carry on the school’s tradition of education, magic, and humanitarianism. Luckily for Gerald, the decision was an easy one.
Rewind a decade or so. It was the winter of 1792 when Gerald Podford’s most esteemed prodigy, Antolf Ensliedale, approached him about life after graduation. Podford had early recognized the magical skills the young man possessed when scouting at local pubs and drinkeries for blossoming talent. Ensliedale was performing his tight magical 5 when Gerald, 90 years old at this point, approached with a firm handshake and full scholarship. It had been many decades since Gerald, however proud of his legion of worshippers, saw himself in any of the youngsters he presided over. Antolf graduated in the spring of ‘98, ventured to Arizona to discover himself for a year, returned to campus and finally made it clear to Gerald that everything he’d been seeking in the wilderness was already right in front of him.
Podford died in the long summer of 1802. His lawyer read the will to his surviving constituents, explaining that Gerald had been holding on for dear life these past few months in order to “perform” his final “trick”: living to be one hundred years old. The lawyer continued, “If I, Gerald Podford, can contribute to the campus’s future as a globally recognized Blue Zone, by God, I must do it.” Many tears were shed and the lawyer went on, “I bequeath the deed and robes of the esteemed position of Head Dean Wizard to my bloodless descendant Antolf Ensliedale. Dear boy, it is with great pleasure and honor I see my lineage, namesake, and legacy handed down to the only logical choice before me. You are pure magic, my boy, and may your reign as Head Dean Wizard be long, prosperous, and truly magical. I love you.” The lawyer concluded the reading of Podford’s will with the traditional singing of Podford University’s Fight Song “Vanish Ye Piano on Ole Boston Harbor.” Some say Podford’s father, Ronaldo, now 124, sit quietly in the back of the reading, silently saying his goodbyes to his old son.
Ensliedale came into his own over the next few decades. He was a modest man who’s only goal was to continue to respect the legacy of his beloved mentor, the very mentor a sea of hungry young students also regarded as the pinnacle of magic, education, and leadership. The school was in the very best of hands and these were some of the best years the school had ever or will ever know.
Podford University: 1840-1930
John Walker Podford was named Dean III, for the first time dropping the 'Head Dean Wizard' moniker, on January 8th, 1843 after Ensliedale died in a shipwreck while gathering seashells for Podford’s biology department. J.W., a visionary who brought the school out of financial turmoil, converted the Arts department into a steam engine factory, taking advantage of the student body’s aptitude for manual labor.
Podford roared with the rest of the country during the 1920’s and enjoyed record-setting enrollment. While it was initially believed the popularity surge was due to an outstanding History program, more recent evidence suggests the acclaim was related to bootleg gin being sold out of the Art department’s bathtub.
Unfortunately, child labor laws decimated the infrastructure at Podford and the school fell back on financial difficulty in the years to come.
Podford University: 1931-Present
With the money the university made through bootlegging they were able to expand their campus and become the first university to have a computer. This computer was almost two stories tall and weighed as much as three elephants. This computer, lovingly named after Gerald Podford's nerd cousin, was called Nerdotron-6784 and was able to do as many as five simple math problems in 17 hours. This was a marvel of science during the 1950’s.
In the 1960’s, Nerdotron-6784 was updated and became the Super Nerdotron-6784X. The Super Nerdotron-6784X was able to play checkers like one of the greats, managing to beat both captains of Podford’s checkers team. The Super Nerdotron-684X was eventually made captain of the checkers team and took the Podford team to the state championship in 1967. This made one of the original captains, Albert Chunkington, furious. Chunkington couldn’t take it anymore.His checkers prowess awarded him a full scholarship and he wasn’t going to let a smart garbage can upstage him. Chunkington did the unthinkable and eventually set fire to the Super Nerdotron-6784X. He was found one night dancing naked, bathed in firelight, and cackling like a mad man. Chunkington was expelled and the next year a memorial garden was planted where the big computer once stood.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Podford University really felt they could move on from the loss of their beloved giant computer. In 1981, the university built their first computer lab. It’s no understatement to say that the dorks and nerds at Podford went absolutely hog wild when they were able to start clacking away at those keyboards they love.
The 1980’s were a true technological renaissance for Podford. In 1983, Alyson Phreako started the Association of Podford Computer Lovers for all of the weirdos who loved to play on those technology boxes. What started out as just a computer club quickly became an outlet for Alyson and her techno-cohorts to dabble in hacking. Soon enough there wasn’t a mainframe on earth they couldn’t access. Hacking alone could not satiate Phreako though and soon enough she turned her focus to the dark arts and began to study Technomancy. Magic had long been a part of the history of Podford, but Phreako had brought that magic into the 21st century. Alyson Phreako, widely regarded as the school's pre-eminent technomancer, began surfing the web during the fall semester of her sophomore year at the academy. This was the early stages of the internet and Phreako was considered a pioneer in web design and she created the blueprint for Podford University’s website.
The 1990’s began bleakly for Podford University as Alyson Phreako, the then head of the University’s tech department, had gone missing. Phreako was last seen in her office hunched over her computer and was said to be quite withdrawn in the days leading up to her disappearance. She was never found. In 1994, a memorial garden was planted in her honor outside of her office. The rest of the decade through the turn of the century saw the school attempting to build their reputation as”the cool school” leading to disastrous results. Skate parks were built throughout the campus, and though the surface this wasn’t a bad thing, the signage surrounding the parks which read “helmets and paddings are stupid and lame” and “drinking while skating is encouraged” certainly was The signage, of course, led to many injuries. Additionally, all water fountains were removed from campus and replaced with Monster Energy vending machines. This led to a school-wide health crisis.
Between the death of a beloved technomancer, many skateboarding injuries, and even more Monster Energy related poisonings the 1990’s and 2000’s proved to be a dark and trying time for Podford University. But darkness always gives way to light and Podford’s light came in the form of a new dean; a dean with a vision as big as his heart. Enter Dean Cormac Gondolo III, rumored to be the reincarnation of founder Gerald Podford’s late father, Ronaldo: the hero Podford University needed. In 2010 Dean Cormac Gondolo III started his new career as Podford’s fearless leader. Gondolo made some quick changes and immediately got rid of all of the Monster Energy vending machines, replacing them with vending machines that sold good fruit and Red Bull. He paved over all of the skate parks except for one and took down the signs that encouraged drinking and not wearing protective gear. With Gondolo at the helm, Podford was entering a new era of light and prosperity. The future looks bright for Podford University and her students. No longer will Podford be known as the University of the missing technomancer; no longer will Podford lead the way in terms of Monster Energy related poisonings. In the words of Dean Cormac Gondolo III “It’s your life, why not act like it?”