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Dickinson Rising

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Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III, ’77, P’11, Chair of the Board of Trustees

As with all publications, this magazine has a deadline for submissions. Even the chair of the board of trustees must adhere to that provision, and so in early March I dutifully penned my spring column and submitted it on schedule. It was a piece based on a February trip I’d made to Florida to visit various alums in the southern part of the state and was thus filled with tales of sun-dappled days, brimming with optimism.

Then, suddenly, the world changed, and my piece became a rather anachronistic relic of a time that now seems so long ago. I am writing this replacement column when the coronavirus is raging throughout many parts of the world. Cases are mounting in the United States, much of the country is sheltering in place and there is widespread fear of this dreadful pandemic. Our campus is nearly deserted, as the necessary switch to virtual learning for the remainder of the semester is in progress. We are indeed living in perilous and uncertain times.  

Through all of this, however, I remain certain of one salient fact: Dickinson College will rise to meet this challenge, flourish and continue to offer a useful, innovative and interdisciplinary education. Indeed, our students, faculty, staff and vast alumni network are totally engaged and working for the common good every day as our world grapples with the manifestly difficult challenges the coronavirus has dealt us. 

While the pandemic is itself unprecedented, our college has experienced many existential threats during its long history. Just as it weathered those, so will it survive this one. Dickinson has experienced a civil war that fractured our country, two world wars and between them a worldwide economic depression. Through these crises, Dickinson has emerged stronger and better. So it will when the coronavirus wanes. 

What can you do to help? First and foremost, avoid the temptation during these tumultuous economic times to stop making Dickinson a philanthropic priority. Your financial support is needed now more than ever. Please don’t stop giving to the Dickinson Fund, and if you can find it within your budget to do more, I am making a personal appeal for you to do so. Second, please continue to offer internships to our students and job opportunities to our graduates. Our students need our incredible alumni network. Reach out to to share opportunities in your organization.

President Margee Ensign and her team have distinguished themselves throughout this crisis, and we are in almost daily contact. During one of our exchanges, Margee and I discussed what we were reading. We were startled to learn that we were both engrossed in The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson—the story of Winston Churchill and how he inspired his country during the Battle of Britain. Relevantly, Churchill once said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”  Dickinson has made the decision to move onward, mightily. Join us as we do so. 

Read more from the spring 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published May 13, 2020