On Monday of this week (it is
early September as I write this) I spoke to the
first-year students in the first of their Monday
meetings on student success. My assignment was “Expectations,” what
I would expect of them and what they could expect
of the College.
I asked them to consider this quote from Eric
Hoffer: “In times of change, the learners
will inherit the Earth, while the knowers will
find themselves beautifully equipped to deal
with a world that no longer exists.”
We are in the business of creating “learners,” whom
we hope never become complacent as “knowers.” Nearly
everything we see happening in the world today
supports the idea that the ability to learn for
a lifetime is critical.
In thirty years of higher education, I have
come to believe strongly in the power of and
importance of expectations. I think that none
of us achieves beyond either the expectations
we have set for ourselves or those held for us
by someone else.
In recent years, Jewell students have been Truman
Scholars and Goldwater Scholars and athletic
champions and successful musicians and student
researchers. One of the reasons they have achieved
important things, beyond having talent and working
hard, is that someone expected them to.
While not all students will achieve at the level
of some of our prestigious fellowship recipients,
we can all achieve more than we often think we
can. To do so, we encourage our students to engage
fully in the experiences (academic and otherwise)
available to them, investing their time and energy.
We also expect them to be responsible for their
education. We provide nearly limitless opportunities,
but students are responsible for using those
I also shared with the first-year class what
they can expect from the College. They can expect
the faculty and staff to challenge them, to expect
them to work hard, to improve in all aspects
of their lives. At the same time, they can expect
support when they need it, again in all aspects
of their lives. They can also expect us to push
them toward responsibility and independence and
maturity. And finally, our students can expect
us to push them to think beyond themselves.
Ernest Boyer said that a great undergraduate
education moves students from competence to commitment.
I would add that at Jewell we add in a dose of
confidence; the full experience at Jewell—the
challenge, the support, the responsibility—creates
a graduate who is ready to live a competent,
committed and confident life.