Dickinson Matters: Innovation Then and Now

Nancy Roseman

Nancy Roseman

by Nancy A. Roseman, president

Every time I make my way into Old West, I cannot help but take note of our founder’s statue overlooking the Academic Quad and wonder what he would say about Dickinson today. While initially he might be dumbfounded by the growth and complexity of his college after more than 230 years, I think he would quickly sense how deeply his philosophy is embedded in all that we do. Despite some of the obvious differences, the heart of who we are, our mission, remains unchanged and central to our identity: to prepare young people, by means of a useful education in the liberal arts and sciences, for engaged lives of citizenship and leadership in the service of society.

Being “useful” often requires being innovative, and I am sure that Benjamin Rush would recognize the spirit of change and transformation that energizes our campus as part of his legacy. The momentum and excitement that comes from constant innovation is expressed on our campus in myriad ways, and it comes from all quarters of our community due to the entrepreneurial efforts of students, faculty and staff.

New course offerings and pedagogical approaches can be found around every corner and simply are not possible without the intellectual courage and boldness of our community. This too can find its roots in the intellectual fearlessness exemplified by Rush and his revolutionary contemporaries. The new certificate program in social innovation and entrepreneurship; the College Farm’s new pop-up restaurant, GATHER; the Innovation Competition; and the development of Mosaics in response to migration across the Mediterranean or environmental disasters in the U.S. and Japan are just a few examples of the ways our students and faculty (often working together) seek broad academic connections across the institution and across disciplines.

Our work together, both as a community and across the curriculum, fosters an environment of collaboration and intellectual risk-taking that allows our students to make those all-important formative strides from inquiry and discovery to action—something we consider part and parcel of our educational paradigm here at Dickinson.

What we have at Dickinson is special. The institution we are today stands as a testament to the intentionality, courage and innovative thinking of those who came before us. Our inspired culture of collaboration, interdisciplinarity and the application of deep learning in useful and engaging ways is unlike anything you will find at other institutions.

By continuing to reach across curricular and programmatic boundaries and by encouraging all members of our community to be intellectually fearless, we are at the frontier of scholarship, teaching and learning—poised to step up and confront the challenges of our changing world.

As many of you know, I recently announced my resignation as president, effective June 30. As we develop our strategic plan, which will help inform our upcoming fundraising campaign, I realize that this time provides a natural moment of transition.

The Board of Trustees has named Provost and Dean Neil Weissman as our interim president, effective July 1. Until then, I look forward to speaking with many of  you and to working with Dean Weissman and the leadership team as we prepare for a smooth transition.

I will leave Dickinson knowing we are a leader among our peers. We are enjoying record applications for enrollment, we employ an expert faculty and staff  passionate about our mission, and we have built a strong financial foundation for our future.

Would Benjamin Rush recognize Dickinson today? Yes … and he would be so proud.

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Published April 28, 2016