|11th College President:
This has been, and continues to be, a year of transitions. The worldwide recession, initiated by a series of frightening and poorly understood financial market meltdowns, has focused a bright light on the increasing economic dependency connecting the globe.
From a national perspective, the historic and seamless transfer of authority and power from one president to another, despite their vast political and personal differences, and in the midst of economic trauma, reminded us of the glory of American governance at its best.
On campus, John Burris decided to step down after eight years as Beloit’s 10th president. The appointment of recently retired Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Vice President and College Trustee Dick Niemiec’65 as interim president proved to be an astute decision and established a healthy platform from which to search for President Burris’s successor. And, from a personal perspective, my wife, Melody, and I made a decision in February to accept a generous offer from Beloit College to become its 11th first family.
Transitions as momentous as these, from global to personal, precipitate an odd paradox of responses. Most dramatically, they shake things up and prompt imaginative new ways of thinking and behaving. Institutions and people who can negotiate transitions most effectively—with insight, courage, and resolve—will position themselves on the other side to be stronger and more mature. Transitions are opportunities. At the same time, they prompt institutions and people to dig inward to find the real core of what is important to their mission and their lives. Those who have the wisdom to discover deeper meaning, the ability to remind themselves of fundamental truths, and the capacity for effective reflection combined with the will to tap into that capacity, make it possible for productive change. Carpe diem, but carpe diem for things that are fundamental and meaningful.
As I have begun to get to know the Beloit community, there is a theme I hear about without exception: Beloit College makes a difference, a profound difference, in the lives of the people who take the time to know it. It is a place full of meaning. For those who spent four formative years at Beloit preparing for their futures, this is particularly true.
So, in this inaugural letter from me to you, at this moment of critical transitions—global, national, and at your alma mater—I ask an important favor of you. I ask you to respond—literally respond—to the question of what we, the Beloit community, can do to take best advantage of this decisive moment of opportunity. And, I ask you to remind yourself of the importance that Beloit College has played in your life and to draw on your Beloit education and experiences to reflect on the core Beloit values that have been most meaningful to you and that must guide our future. Twenty years from now, higher education will be sorted by those schools that have best negotiated these transitions; this will be true for the liberal arts sector generally, and it will be true among the schools in that sector. Success will be more fulsome and more focused, the more we can draw from the wisdom and loyalty of generations of Beloiters. It is both your right and your responsibility to help define, shape, and support the greatest future for this great College.
So I ask you to email me a response to these questions:
- What can we do together to strengthen Beloit’s place as a principled leader in American higher education, taking advantage of the opportunities that come with a transition?
- How do you believe that you individually—and alumni more generally—can most effectively engage with the College?
- What are the most productive ways in which Beloit should ask you to engage?
We will be using your responses to shape a Beloit that is more a part of your lives and in which you are more a part of its future. It is an exciting time, and I look forward to getting to know you and to beginning our important work together.
President Scott Bierman