Crossing Swords: AIDS, the Olympics, and the Liberal Arts

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Being a liberally educated generalist is a double-edged sword, in a good way. This is perhaps particularly so when one comes home to roost at one’s alma mater, among the smart eggs who educated one so liberally and generally in the first place; I’m just sayin’. [N.B. “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country]

No double-edged swords in the vault, but Special Collections Outreach Librarian Sharon Byrd did find these: One presented to President Emeritus Samuel R. Spencer ’40 during his student ROTC days, the other belonging to Capt. J.P. Grey 1885

And lo these years later, I am still of two minds, maybe more, all of them double-edged. As a generalist, I tend to know a little about a lot, deploying my inexpertise and short attention span across a broad range of—SQUIRREL!!!

On the other hand, when I can sit still long enough to breathe and think and feel and delve a little deeper, I find it reassuring that I can keep up and at least understand the smartest and most specialized of smart eggs.

Happily, these complementary approaches of breadth and depth lend themselves to my main job description, telling stories about same. Consider two stories I got to work on this week, both of them fresh from the leading (double?) edges of liberal arts and sciences and athletics that characterize Davidson.

• First comes the story of Olympic kayaker Caroline “Bam Bam” Queen ’14, prepping and psyching and training herself to paddle her heart out at the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London starting Tuesday. Read all about Caroline: Caroline Queen ’14 Soaks Up Village Life While Preparing for Olympic Kayak Competition

• Next comes the story of Davidson College students who’ve created a uniquely global project for the Global Village of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., with help from local high school students of the Community School of Davidson. Read all about it: Students at HIV/AIDS Conference Post Experiences in Online Diary

These are important global stories. They have Roman numerals in them and everything, just like the Super Bowl. And I remain happily of two minds, a generalist reporting on and marveling at the directions both broad and deep that the liberal arts and sciences can lead, lifting high a double-edged sword for good. And, of course, paying my salary. I like that part, too.

To explore more Davidson history, visit the Archives blog Around the D.



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