Each year, at Claremont's Fall Convocation, a member of the community offers opening words of wisdom for the year. Given all the changes happening at Claremont, I was asked to give the opening address, in order to update the community on the school's continued progress toward the Claremont University Project and to articulate anew the School's trajectory in the coming years.
Though my professional life has been spent in university administration, I once was trained as a historian of American Christianity and higher education. So in giving the address, I called upon my historical training to explore how Claremont's transformation into a university, while innovative and seemingly abrupt, is not unparalleled in American higher education. In fact, a number of well-known universities -- some of which have United Methodist roots just like Claremont -- have made similar decisions over the two centuries years of American History.
Over the decades, such transformations are due, in part, to the need for institutions to adapt to their changing cultural contexts. It happened in the decades after national independence, and again during the Industrial Revolution. Today, we find ourselves in a similar cultural shift that requires new ways of educating the public--for professional religious leadership, scholarship, and other careers that serve the public good.
In my address this morning, I say, in part:
... Christians live in a complicated, multi-religious, conflict ridden world and ... educational isolation set apart from that world is inadequate preparation for spiritual leaders who will bear the responsibility to lead their peoples across chasms of difference in order for the world to find peace and harmony.You can read the whole address online. As always, I appreciate your comments and questions about these issues as we move forward, together, to make the world a better place.