All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Davidson College President Carol Quillen’

Sweet Summertime, a Last Hurrah, a New President, and a Sno-Cone

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The end of July is a sweet, and bittersweet, time of year on a college campus. It is still fully summertime, to be sure, but inklings abound of the coming turn away from summer’s promises—some kept, some not—toward the promises of the coming fall. At Davidson, the latter promises are sure to be all over the map, driven as they are by some 1,900 or so 18-to-22-year-olds of divergent viewpoints and expectations. For now, we chuff steadily up the grade toward this onrushing light at the end of yonder tunnel, this body of students bearing down on us by train, plane and automobile from around the nation and around the globe.

And yet, for now, there is still time for another long weekend at the beach, which I shall happily prove on North Topsail Island starting tomorrow. When I return to work on Monday morning, President-elect Carol Quillen will have dropped the “elect” from her title and moved into the south Chambers office whence 17 Davidson presidents before her have led this place since its humble 1837 beginnings as a manual-labor school to become one of the premier four-year residential liberal arts colleges in the United States of America.

That’s a lot. She’s ready. We’re ready. Let’s do this.

Arie Hefter ’11 in Hawaii, summer 2010 (photo courtesy Arie Hefter)

The value of a liberal arts education is a tough sell in some quarters these days, as President Quillen herself has noted with no small fire. (See video clips at link above.) And it is true that more and more, people are focused on “meeting the demands of technology,” as I heard it rather inelegantly put in a recent article about the business of education.

I would submit that it is technology that should meet our demands. I would further submit—yes, perhaps a tad archly, sounding almost like a bow-tied liberal arts professor myself, which I am not but have known and do know some damn fine ones—I would submit that the liberal arts perspective boosts, ameliorates and otherwise enhances our chances manyfold, individually and as a society, of formulating our positions in a thinking manner that can best benefit the greater good as well as ourselves. That’s a lot, too. But looking around at the salient features of the business, political and religious landscape of our nation and our world, I would say we need all the greater good we can get right about now.

The liberal arts tradition, of course, by no means has a lock on any concern for the greater good. But the power of understanding that takes root in strong young minds that study the world around them with the breadth and depth found in the liberal arts tradition—this power of truly understanding others is an integral piece of the kind of leadership and service that remains crucial to the progress of civilization. Of the greater good.

And yet, I must remind myself, not all of life need be so serious and grandiloquent. I call on the nimble young minds of aforementioned Davidson students to remind me of simpler perspectives that the more bookish and “mature” among us are prone to forget.

This morning, for instance, I was reviewing notes from an interview with Arie Hefter ’11, a Davidson alumnus Wildcat tennis star from Birmingham, Ala. who was talking to me about his Pre-Ministerial Fellowship in a Reformed Jewish congregation in Hawai’i last summer, his post-grad Hollywood film production internship this summer, and his plans to begin a graduate degree in commerce in the fall. (Now, that’s the liberal arts in action!)

Quoth young Arie: “I guess if Davidson has taught me anything, it is the necessity to experience and explore all avenues of life and dive in at every direction.”

And: “Sometimes you just need a Sno-Cone to get you back on track.”

Dive in at every direction. Have a Sno-Cone.

Sweet summertime!

Charlotte Observer: Interview with Incoming Davidson President Carol Quillen

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The Charlotte Observer‘s Taylor Batten interviewed Carol Quillen as she prepares to officially take the helm at Davidson Aug. 1. Read Batten’s article.

At left, Carol Quillen at Beaver Dam, home of Major William Lee Davidson II, youngest son and namesake of Revolutionary War General William Lee Davidson, for whom the college was named when the Davidson family donated land in the early 19th century.