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Dickinson will invite students back for the spring. Campus buildings are closed and face coverings are required on campus.

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It’s a Wonderful Life

Alumni Council President Albert Masland '79

Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

by Albert Masland '79, Alumni Council President

Carlisle could not have been more beautiful on both Commencement and Alumni weekends this year. The campus was stunning even without the customary  pre-event mulching which was not “essential.” And, there were no complaints of “Cardrizzle.” But of course, you were not here.  

The absence of students this spring sapped the joy from our bustling campus. In the past, as I ambled home on the diagonal path behind Drayer, I looked eagerly for the opportunity to jump in and snag a Frisbee or chip a soccer ball to the amazement of the students (or at least me). Of course, my loss is amplified a thousandfold across the community and in much larger ways. 

So, I’ve felt a bit like Jimmy Stewart’s iconic George Bailey running through the streets of Bedford Falls. However, my epiphany is slightly different. Although the question works both ways, I’ve been pondering: Where might Carlisle be without Dickinson?  

Dickinson has always been important to Carlisle, but over the past few decades, as the town’s manufacturing base has faded, the college has emerged as one of the main players in the community. To be sure, the college has always endeavored to improve “town-gown” relations. Nevertheless, out of necessity and design, President Margee Ensign has taken this to a new level. She was instrumental in convening nearly 100 community leaders to address the immediate concerns of the pandemic. 

And I am confident this coalition will outlive the virus ... because it must. The symbiotic relationship of institutions—educational, social, health care, faith-based—affects more than the economic health of the community. It transcends those institutions and touches real people with real needs on both sides of the limestone walls. 

This optimism is buoyed by the eventual return of students, who may not appreciate the importance of the town to the college. Unfazed, I look forward to being the weird guy in the goofy hat running up and down the diagonal walk shouting, “Welcome back, Dickinsonians! We missed you!”    

Read more from the summer 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine

TAKE THE NEXT STEPS

Published August 17, 2020