Remarks at 2011 Staff Breakfast

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

As we enter this new academic year, I am immensely proud to be a part of our college and community. And I am proud to endeavor with you in advancing this great institution. Together we are the current stewards of Whitman’s legacy; its steadfast commitment to educating undergraduate students.

Many people in this country really don’t understand, or at least say they don’t understand, why an aspiring and talented student should attend a small college when many great universities exist across the country.

Let them come to Whitman.

There are some who say that liberal arts colleges like ours are incapable of preparing students for successful careers or for meaningful entry into the workforce at any level.

Let them come to Whitman.

There are those who say that our colleges are not affordable and that even with financial aid the return on investment is simply too small to warrant attending.

Let them come to Whitman.

And there are a few who believe that the faculty and staff at colleges like ours don’t provide students with an education that will enable them to thrive in a global economy.

Let them come to Whitman.

Our work these past few years has not proven easy – providing an education that is personal, challenging, and supportive while adapting to the changing needs of our students and the world they will inherit will always prove difficult.

But this work is our mission, this is our purpose. And we will not sway from the ideals established by the generations of staff and faculty who came before us.

Indeed, we come together today to reaffirm our commitment to those ideals.

Choosing to work at Whitman means choosing to serve others.  It means choosing to put the priority of excellence in educating the next generation of leaders above all else.

Choosing to work at Whitman means caring about our students and being dedicated to their well-being – to the quality of their experience, to the shaping of their minds.

Choosing to work at Whitman also means caring about our co-workers and the larger institution – it means looking beyond oneself and one’s own interests and pursuing the common good of our community.

The secret to Whitman’s success – the secret to any institution’s success – is in its people – in all of us.  And not just in us but in our dedication and commitment to one another and to a noble mission like ours. 

Please join with me today in reaffirming that commitment, to Whitman and to all those around you. 

Let us not only work hard this year in our daily tasks, but also express our deep appreciation for the great work of our colleagues and others around us. 

Let us not only take pride in the work that we do as individuals, but pride in the work that we do collectively as a college and community. 

Moreover, let each of us recognize and accept that our community –our sense of commitment to one another and to our mission – is everyone’s responsibility.

Each one of us shares responsibility for Whitman’s successes and failures both now and in the future. We go up or down together.

Finally, let today be a point of renewal of our common purpose and our anticipation of Whitman’s very bright future.

Thank you for valiantly advancing the ideals that have shaped Whitman for nearly 130 years.

I anticipate great success in the year ahead – together we will secure it.