All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Carol Quillen’
David Brooks gives his University of Chicago classmate Carol Quillen and Davidson a shout-out in his June 20 column, “The Humanist Vocation.”
“One of the great history teachers in those days was a University of Chicago professor named Karl Weintraub. He poured his soul into transforming his students’ lives, but, even then, he sometimes wondered if they were really listening. Late in life, he wrote a note to my classmate Carol Quillen, who now helps carry on this legacy as president of Davidson College,” Brooks wrote. Read the whole column here.
Brooks visited Davidson in November 2012, where he gave a talk, “What It Means: The 2012 Election and the Future of America.”
At Alumni Reunion Weekend June 6-9, 2013, not just one but two college presidents shed light on not just the world of Davidson but the much wider world of higher education overall.
In the Friday back-to-school class “The Transformation of Music and Music Education,” Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown ’78 opened with a musical slideshow of well-known Berklee alumni, from top pop songwriter Claude Kelley and conductor Alf Clausen of The Simpsons repute to John Mayer, Esperanza Spalding and Quincy Jones. Then, to drive home the point of how the industry has changed in a scant few years, he held up a smartphone and said, “There is more music in this device than I had in my dorm room at Davidson.” To which his onetime roommate Bruce Holliday ’78 chimed in, “That’s a lot of Foghat!”
Deftly barreling past questions of evolving musical tastes, Brown went on to describe the “disaggregation” of the various components of the music industry. That’s a “canary in the coalmine” phenomenon that he predicted is about to hit higher education in earnest, too.
“We have to decide what each component is worth,” he said.
For example, what is the relative value of classroom information imparted and/or created, alongside the social aspects of living on a residential campus like Davidson’s? How does Davidson’s strong, residential, liberal arts approach fit into the bigger picture of a digitized higher ed landscape where many people already want to “buy the single” instead of the album? Brown clicked to an image of a recent higher ed word-association “tag cloud.” The biggest words on the screen were: degree, choice, choose, individual, design (your own major), and options.
In his work at Berklee, which focuses on the business of music as well as the fine art of it, he sees the real-world utility of a liberal arts perspective. For instance, he hired an executive assistant partly because she is a Davidson alumna. “I bet she can write,” he told himself. “And she can really write. She’s a great writer.” [Full disclosure: Said great writer, Jennifer Bangley Roe ’92, recently promoted to Manager of Planning and Communications, Office of the President, is also a treasured personal friend of the Daybook's. We bonded early on over common grammar peeves and ancillary ribaldry when she was midday announcer next door on Main Street at WDAV.]
Brown noted that Berklee and Davidson are two of the top-tier schools that have signed on with the online learning consortium edX, a collaborative venture founded by Harvard and MIT. “I’m proud to say Berklee and Davidson signed on with edX on the same day!” he said.
Later Friday, Davidson President Carol Quillen addressed alumni in a packed Hodson Hall.
“I’m really grateful to be part of this place that asks us to be the person we want to be,” Quillen said. What that means for students over the course of four years here is new and different in a way that it never has been before, she said. “They may get jobs when they graduate that didn’t exist when they were freshmen!”
Technology is changing our lives in interesting ways, she said, then sotto voce, “and sometimes in profoundly stupid ways.” (Knowing chuckles rippled through the crowd. This was, after all, the same week that Internet meme phenom “Grumpy Cat” got a Hollywood agent.)
Zooming quickly back out to the big picture of higher education, Quillen declared, “There is nothing transient or outdated about Davidson’s Statement of Purpose.”
Au contraire, she said, the challenge Davidson undertakes now is continuing a strong heritage of helping each student find his or her way into a fully meaningful life, a life in service to something greater than themselves. To do that in 2013, Quillen said, we must:
• Reimagine the liberal arts: “What do we need to keep the same? What do we need to add? What do we need to stop doing?”
• Focus on access and excellence: The Davidson Trust is a primary tool for making a Davidson education a realistic possibility for any and all. “In a democracy, your access to an education should not be your parents’ income,” she said, her voice slowing and lowering. “It should not be.”
• Be deliberate about developing technology as an integral aspect of the curriculum: “We must help students more effectively express themselves, to multiple audiences across multiple media.”
Quillen talked about Davidson’s burgeoning “transition to impact” fellowships and other partnerships for students and new graduates. She talked about the importance of the Honor Code in today’s world and about the importance of Division I sports in campus life and the overall Davidson experience. She talked about growing relationships in Charlotte, the region and beyond for collaboration, research, entrepreneurship and start-up ventures.
Quillen held up transdisciplinary teaching like “Representations of AIDS,” a joint class that was offered by Associate Professor of English Ann Fox and Professor of Biology Dave Wessner. “The range of perspectives that comes out of that kind of collaboration, from professors and from students, is something that only happens in a place like this,” Quillen said.
She talked about plans for the new academic neighborhood capital construction that will center around venerable Martin Chemical Laboratory, where Davidson chemists have become fond of joking that the periodic table has been updated more than the building has in recent times. She talked about hiring to build in specific academic areas, and she talked about building on existing strengths, and creating new ones.
She talked about edX and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as one tool for doing so. “[An online presence] is not a threat or a substitute for what we do,” she said. “Our curriculum is based on people doing things.”
Other quotables from the hour:
• “Our (Davidson) culture has assumed at times a certain homogeneity, so we want to be careful that being welcoming doesn’t mean ‘Become like us.’”
• “Davidson students ask, ‘What does the world need?’… They will be called on for creativity, resilience, compassion and moral courage.”
• “How can technology help Davidson reach its aspirations?”
• “Employers look for a set of credentials and not a (major) degree.”
• “Entrepreneurship has an affinity for liberal arts thinking.”
Quillen said she loves her job, and is looking forward to continuing the many forward-looking conversations, not shying from the hard ones, that have been a hallmark of her first two years at Davidson: “My job is to listen to smart Davidson people, and repeat what they say to other smart people, and then get out of the way!”
It’s Alumni Reunion Weekend at Davidson, and there will be roughly as many alumni and entourage entities on campus for the next three days as there were studious students studying just a month ago, which is to say approaching 2000.
I can only imagine what will happen when both those populations break that next millenial barrier, which I’d wager will be soon.
For now, it’s a big ol’ party, with alumni piling into Cannon, Sentelle, Duke and Davis, the newest of Davidson’s down-the-hill digs. Stay tuned, I’ll be here all weekend.
As the campus comes alive with overlapping yesteryears, one Davidson student is headed right this red-hot minute for the World Cup race and Olympic selection event in London.
The last Common Hour of the semester at 11:05 a.m. Tuesday featured doughnuts—the ambrosial yeasty kind, not the crumbly ol’ cakey kind—and plenty of piping hot, Davidson-friendly S&D Coffee in the Lilly Family Gallery of Chambers Building. With exams and Christmas just around the corner, ’tis the season to micromanage blood sugar and serum caffeine levels around here. Miles to go before anybody sleeps, capiche? Why, in this very morning’s Crier e-newsletter, I saw announcements for no fewer than four (4) study breaks featuring cookies, ice cream, banana splits and, of course, coffee. It is a good time indeed to be working the Davidson beat, and could you please pass the insulin? [Note 1: R. Stuart Dickson Professor of Psychology Julio Ramirez points Daybook to neuroscientific research on glucose and memory. Note 2: This week, in addition to the sugar and caffeine food groups, SGA is offering fruit and juice and milk and bagels, a welcome tip of the hat to nutritional diversity. Kudos!)
Back to the Lilly Gallery on Tuesday: With her customary podium panache—or perhaps “dais dash” would be a better term, as she is loath to stay put behind a podium—President Carol Quillen packed the hour with an update and Q&A with students, faculty and staff on what she’s been doing and thinking since she started work here at Davidson Aug. 1. To wit, for five months she’s been asking lots of questions of the whole Davidson family and assimilating the answers into general directions of strategic thought. I didn’t have a notepad handy (hello: busy consuming ambrosial doughnuts and piping hot coffee here), so I listened carefully and mentally noted three main directions of strategic thought, employing monosyllabic mnemonic devices that my own liberal-artsy noggin could remember long enough to haul itself back to my desk and ponder upon.
Who?—Who do we want at the Davidson of the unfolding 21st century? Perhaps more precisely, who do we want to be Davidson? Leaving aside anyone’s specific formulation of an answer to such a kitchen-sink question, answering it at all indubitably means more diversity of every kind at Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, USA, the World, the Solar System, the Galaxy, the Universe, 2012 CE. So: how do we and how will we support the growing cultural diversity of our student body? Of our faculty? Staff? How will we support increasing religious diversity? Ethnic? Socioeconomic? Academic?…
What?—And what is academic diversity if not the essence of the liberal arts? Has been since the start, 1837 for us. But just as the academic requirements of, say, mid-American Century Davidson College were not the same as those of its earliest days as a manual-labor school, so now and looking forward, the posture of our college must not remain static in this, its terquasquicentennial (175th) year. Indeed, almost by definition, a liberal-arts educational posture is among the most dynamic of all, and always evolving. A recent revision of distribution requirements at Davidson is but one example. How else might this college want and need to change academically or otherwise to meet the exponentially faster-paced wants and needs of the 21st century, while staying true to the worthy traditions of the liberal arts in general and the college’s Statement of Purpose in particular?
When?—”When” is my imperfect word-association cue for a fascinating and complex topic that Quillen turned to new light, for me anyway. When Davidson students look to their futures, and when they in fact enter that world, how might the college continue to support them in new and important ways in their hero quests, their grand alumni adventures, to bring the kind of good into the world that Davidson alumni always have brought and, it is to be hoped, always will bring?
These are questions big enough and worthy enough to challenge the great, big, strong family that is Davidson students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends around the world. I, for one, accept.
Rainbow sprinkles on your globally-sourced doughnut, anyone?
I was just watching Carol Quillen’s video interviews in the news story of her selection as Davidson’s 18th president. (She’ll be on the job five weeks from Monday!)
The topic in one interview segment was how we communicate and how we live in community. Quillen’s starting point was the utterly familiar perspective of winners and losers in a black and white world, us versus them.
She ended at a point more nuanced, more realistic and, we must hope, more conducive to harmony in the world.
A history professor with a broad view, Quillen used her own career in higher education—from student debater to professor to senior administrator to leader in the realms of religious tolerance, global strategic thinking, interdisciplinarity, and diversity—as a backdrop for the logical progression of her thinking. Things she’d learned along her own way, in other words.
Quillen made the point that not every subject lends itself to debate in the formal definition, that a final answer of win-loss need not be the overriding point of every single exchange of ideas.
“Human beings are going to profoundly disagree on things that are very deeply important to them,” she said. “Hoping for agreement is naïve, in effect unhelpful, and occasionally unethical. How do you structure a conversation so that people are talking about things that matter the most to them, in a way that doesn’t anticipate agreement or resolution at the end?
“If you really want people to feel safe discussing their faith or their convictions,” Quillen continued, “you cannot create an environment of debate. It’s not helpful and it’s not respectful.
“So how do you create a safe space for people to talk about their very real differences: differences in values, differences in commitment, differences in belief?
“How do you create that space such that people leave, not necessarily agreeing, which is impossible, but confident that they’ve found a path to coexist in peace?”
As Davidson College continues to grow to mirror the world we live in—and the world we want to live in—our collective questions are more important than any one individual’s answers.
In fact, the questions are perhaps the point, as we humans learn to ask them openly, respectfully, and together.
Kudos to everyone involved in the search for Davidson’s 18th president, especially trustee chair Mackey McDonald ’68 and my very own classmate Kristin Hills Bradberry ’85, who headed the search committee. It was masterfully orchestrated and executed from beginning to end, top to bottom, last-minute plane trip to late-night conference call, right down to the final coconut square, which I ate, at the reception, which just ended.
President-Elect Carol Quillen will begin work Aug. 1. Beyond her impressive homepage bio information and clips, I can so far report that up close, Quillen has a confident handshake, a winning smile, and a sincerity and warmth of engagement with just the right smidge of je ne sais quoi. Her carefully prepared remarks were right on with the mission and hallmarks of Davidson College, past, present, and—I’m betting on it—future. Her subsequent extemporaneous stroll across the stage trolling for questions was a perfect counterpoint of humor and self-assurance.
Before Quillen was introduced, the Duke Family Performance Hall was packed with both gownies and townies when Kristin and McDonald took the stage. I caught the catch in Kristin’s voice when she thanked our interim President of Davidson (iPOD) John Kuykendall and his wife Missy. They have been mentors to Kristin, as to many, as to me, and I for one am glad they lived here in Davidson before and will continue to live here after this presidential interimcy. Interimlude. His second stint in the president’s office.
When McDonald took the mic to introduce the new president, I noted his care in letting two important bits of information peep out before the official introduction: the pronoun “she,” and the fact that the person he was about to introduce did not go to college at Davidson. Quillen is indeed Davidson’ first female president, and its first non-alumnus/a since John Rood Cunningham (1941-57). Introducing those two noteworthy facts separately from the person herself was a subtle nuance of qualification without label or distraction that permitted everyone I spoke with over coconut squares to come together in a message of broadest support for our new fearless leader. It is this:
Davidson College thinks you’re the best person for the job of leading us forward, Carol Quillen—with imagination and, as you said today, “re-imagination.” We welcome you!