Family Weekend: Dean Wendy Raymond on Molecular Biology and Lessons from an Elderly Beagle

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Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Wendy Raymond, who began her work at Davidson Aug. 1, addressed her inaugural class of seniors as a group for the first time at Fall Convocation.

“At Davidson, excellence comes in the context of lives of leadership and service, of humane instincts, of disciplined and creative minds,” she said, quoting the college’s oft-cited Statement of Purpose.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Wendy Raymond

Raymond pointed to the “mutually reinforcing” attributes of integrity and transparency as twin foundations that serve Davidson’s readiness to “change and evolve without losing balance.”

She offered the example of her fond familiarity with transfer RNA (tRNA) in molecular biology labs as a framework for understanding change. The function of tRNA is to decode DNA molecules in genetic protein translation. Like the liberal arts and sciences, tRNA molecules have been around a long, long, long time. Both can be seen as an integral part of the changes, evolutions and ongoing iterations of humanity.

So, where does the beagle come in? Well, Raymond’s beloved beagle Lita, a lady of a certain age, is prone to fall down in the midst of all the vivacious spiritedness she brings to each day of being a dog. And what does she do, over and over? She gets back up and keeps going.

Raymond encouraged Davidson students to get used to falling and to getting back up and keeping on, taking risks and learning and bringing those lessons and that experience cheerfully forward. Not bad advice for the rest of us, too. Thanks, Dean Raymond, I needed that!

Read more about Fall Convocation.

Read more about Dean Wendy Raymond.

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