October 01, 2017
By Jonathan D. Green, President
I have the great privilege of beginning my service as a college president here at Susquehanna University, one of the leading higher education institutions in the United States.
All objective measures confirm that a college education remains the best investment in an individual’s long-term financial success, but we are confronted with daily news stories that question the value of a college degree, usually reported by a successful college graduate.
There is also a growing ideological divide about whether colleges and universities have a positive impact upon our society. We have a lot of work to do. At Susquehanna, “We educate students for productive, creative and reflective lives of achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, dynamic and interdependent world.” What could be a better goal for our nation and world?
To this end, as Lynn and I meet with alumni and friends of Susquehanna, we have focused on four pillars:
1. Citizen Leadership
Residential liberal arts college are a uniquely American form of higher education. The Founding Fathers helped sponsor these colleges to prepare citizen leaders to foster the new republic. Benjamin Franklin’s essay Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania (1749) outlined the educational experience he anticipated at the budding University of Pennsylvania:
The Idea of what is true Merit, should also be often presented to Youth, explain’d and impress’d on their Minds, as consisting in an Inclination join’d with an Ability to serve Mankin, one’s Country, Friends and Family; which Ability is (with the Blessing of God) to be acquir’d or greatly encreas’d by true Learning; and should indeed be the great Aim and End of all Learning.
This is an ideal time for us to recapture Franklin’s message and myriad implications.
2. Global Citizenship
As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in Letter from Birmingham Jail, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
How can we be effective global citizens? We must engage each other and learn to appreciate the credo of Roman playwright Terence: “I am human, I consider nothing that is human to be alien to me.”
A truly cosmopolitan person has developed the capacity to recognize and celebrate the humanity in others. Through the GO program and throughout our curriculum, we strive to foster a sincere appreciation for the true richness of human diversity.
One of our most important aspirations is to make a Susquehanna education attainable for all deserving students and to provide those students access to the most enriching opportunities we can. As we cultivate philanthropic support for the University, the ability of meritorious students to graduate and to be able to engage in truly transformative experiences on and off campus must continue to be our top priority.
Universities have many constituencies. Dr. King’s “network of mutuality” applies to all of them. Each group has a different relationship with the university, but all groups benefit from the enhanced engagement of others in support of the institution. We will continue to enhance our shared understanding of the ways in which the collective Susquehanna community can be strengthened by elevating each group’s participation in the life of the university and in connection with each other.