by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Visiting the high plains of the great Rocky Mountains, President Margee Ensign reflected on the figurative summits that lie ahead. "Technology is changing the way we work, study and play," she said. "So what kind of education does a young person need to meet the challenges of our time?"
It's a question Ensign had traveled to Denver, Colorado, to answer, during a reception that marked the halfway point of her spring Useful Education for the Common Good Tour.
Hosted by Gretchen Ernest Brigden '89 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the event brought local alumni and parents together to connect with fellow Dickinsonians, meet the president and ask questions about her vision for Dickinson's future. And because it coincided with a planned spring admissions reception, five Denver-area high-schoolers who were recently accepted into Dickinson also attended with their parents to learn more about Dickinson directly from the woman in charge.
Gretchen Ernest Brigden '89 hosted the event. Photo by Wayne Armstrong.
During her brief address, Ensign noted that Dickinson is a longtime leader in global and sustainable education and is positioned to become a global leader in intercultural competency education. "At a time when challenges and opportunities are large, we all need to understand issues from different perspectives. And at Dickinson, everything we do is interdisciplinary," she said. "It's an extraordinary place ... and we set the bar high."
Kate Jones '11 said the president's global outlook and experience were inspiring. "I always remember what we used to say—Dickinson engages the world," she said. "Well, she lives that philosophy."
"It's exciting to hear her lay out her vision," said Dick Vickery '61, "and it's good to connect with alumni from different class years."
Bruce Geller '77, P'12, who attended the reception with daughter Nina Geller '12, noted that those fruitful relationships extend beyond the alumni community. "How many of you have had dinner at faculty members' houses and have kept in touch with faculty long after graduation?" he asked fellow alumni. "That close relationship with faculty is characteristic of Dickinson."
Photo by Wayne Armstrong.
After a brief Q&A session, Ensign gave the newly accepted students in attendance their custom designed class T-shirts and welcomed them into the college community.
The experience made an impression on Elizabeth Price, an area student who's interested in studying abroad in Russia and applied to Dickinson on the strength of the college's study-abroad programming. "It's been amazing meeting people I wouldn't normally meet—you get a good sense of the community," she said. "And the president is a super person."
Shawn Werner '05 agreed. "The energy is palpable," he said. "I can't wait to see what the future brings."
From Denver, the Useful Education for the Common Good Tour headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 13. In April the tour will visit Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and San Francisco before concluding in Richmond May 23.
Published March 14, 2018