Closing remarks

Thank you, Ryan and Kaitlyn, for the beautiful gift of your music.

With that, let me open the academic year by offering with a very brief description of what you should expect over the next four years and then a summary of your first homework assignments.

Before you leave Whitman, we expect that each of you will recognize that the most valuable parts of any education are not the answers, but the questions. Your degree from Whitman College will acknowledge the habits of mind you will have developed – the honing of your ability to ask questions, to find tension and ambiguity in issues, and also the ability to propose innovative resolutions. Your degree will also acknowledge your strengths in communication – writing and speaking – in articulating ideas and presenting solutions to problems. Finally, it will acknowledge your capacity to work collaboratively with others and in many cases to lead the collaborations.

In that spirit, we expect that you will become leaders in your careers, professions and communities, following in the tradition of those who have gone before you.

Finaly, we expect that as an alumnus or alumna you will return to our campus, rekindle relationships developed here and encourage and support those who come after you.

You are embarking on a remarkable educational experience, and I welcome you to the important and exciting work ahead.  It is, as Professor Burgess stated, work on the riddle of solving yourself.


Now, as is our tradition at Whitman, my final message is to give you your first homework assignments for the year: there are three:

  1. Tomorrow morning, come prepared to register for classes at your appointed time.
  2. Tomorrow afternoon, you will attend a gathering lead by three of our faculty as they discuss the summer reading, Whistling Vivaldi. Afterward, you will discuss this text in groups with your resident advisers and student academic advisers.
  3. When classes begin next week, you should come to your Encounters section on wednesday having read the preface and chapters 1-4 of volume I of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

And now, with great pleasure, on this 30th day of August, 2013, I declare Whitman College officially open for the 131st academic year!

Thank you. And bon voyage!