Growth and change are at the heart of a college. Elizabethtown College sees creating active learners as the core of its mission. Young people stretch their minds by reading challenging texts, wrestling to complete experiments and applying their learning in internships. Working adults expand their minds by balancing demanding jobs and challenging classes in our School for Continuing and Professional Studies. Senior members of our regional communities participate in the College’s Presidential Community Enrichment Series and Institute for Learning in Retirement.
Yet, more than our minds must be stretched. As the sociologist Parker Palmer wrote, “Intellect, emotion and spirit depend on one another for wholeness. They are interwoven in the human self and in education at its best,…” Elizabethtown College educates the whole person. It shapes not only our intellect, but our bodies, as well—through service, participation on intramural and varsity teams, physical recreation and activities promoting wellness. Engaging in vigorous discussions with students in the class I taught last semester, and swimming, walking and biking has kept me growing in mind and body.
Our spirits, too, need to grow. Education must be grounded in moral purpose. As Martin Luther King Jr. warned us more than 50 years ago, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” From the Newman Club and Sunday night worship in the Chapel, to the Called to Lead program and yoga and meditation, the College offers a variety of ways to deepen our spiritual lives. The beautiful campus, itself, offers room for our spirits to grow. And, as our Brethren founders taught us, serving others is, itself, a form of spirituality.
An autograph book of Avis Sunderland, a student at Elizabethtown College from 1928-1929, generously given to me by her family, recently reminded me of how the College has touched lives for more than a century. Students challenged friends to write their wittiest pieces of wisdom in such books. Here’s one of my favorites: “Dear Avis, May your life be like a snowflake, leaving a mark but not a stain.” May everyone in the Elizabethtown College community continue to grow in mind, body and spirit and leave their mark here and in the world beyond our community.
Carl J. Strikwerda
President, Elizabethtown College