|Duke Residence Hall Dedication Remarks -- Chris Alexander, McGee Director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program
September 11, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
Thank you Tom; thank you President Ross; but especially, thanks to all of you for joining us on a truly historic afternoon.
|Chris Alexander, McGee Director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program.|
On a campus as exciting as this one, we use that kind of language very often. So let me briefly suggest why there simply is no other way to describe a day like this one.
Twenty-two fall semesters ago, then-President John Kuykendall stood before a Fall Convocation dedicated to the opening of a new international studies program at Davidson College.
When he described that new program’s mission, he said that, and here I’m quoting from his remarks that day, “No student should graduate without exposure to an international education. The Dean Rusk Program should be not a separate school but a dimension in the total Davidson experience. It should capture the imagination of every student.”
For more than two decades, the Dean Rusk Program has worked to fulfill that mission – to weave other cultures, other languages, and an open, honest curiosity about the world into the fabric of this place.
Today, more than 80% of all Davidson students travel abroad during their college careers. No liberal arts college campus provides more or more varied opportunities for students to engage the world in all its rich variety and challenge. We should all be proud of this record, and many of you here today helped us to achieve it.
But there has always been something missing. By and large, international education has been something that we deliver to students in the classroom, something that we import in the form of speakers and international students, or something that we send students out into the world to get through study, research, and service abroad. Our ability to generate international education here, outside the classroom, has not been as strong as we have known that it could be.
This building changes that forever because it brings international education out of the classroom, out of the lecture hall, and puts it where it must be in order to be truly effective. It puts right in middle of campus and, more importantly, it puts it literally where students live.
For over twenty years, we’ve worked to internationalize liberal arts education, and this building reverses that relationship. It brings a truer liberal arts spirit to international education because it creates the kind of environment for international studies that draws students to Davidson in the first place – it creates a community that integrates students’ intellectual interests into their daily lives and that makes them the architects of their own international education, a community that shapes not only what they study, but that gives them the opportunity to bring a global perspective to what they eat, to the music they listen to, what they talk about with their hallmates at 2:00 in the morning.
That is the stuff of the culture of a place. And to those of you whose support made this possible, I say not only, “thank you” as deeply as I can. I also say that I hope you understand that you have not simply helped to construct a building. You have helped to construct a new culture, the kind of culture that liberates minds and spirits by making learning a part of living and living a part of learning.
We can use many different metaphors to describe the Dean Rusk Program. We can describe it as a bridge between students’ lives in and out of the classroom. We can describe it as a window on the world. It is both of those of things.
But on a day like this, perhaps the best metaphor remains the passport. This, of course, is the legal document that allows you to pass through the gateway of another country.
What we do here, and what you help us to do, turns a Davidson diploma into an intellectual passport, a sign to the world that the bearer is a broadly- and humanely-educated citizen of the world.
Welcome to a new day for international education at Davidson College, a day on which we say Welcome to the World at Davidson College.
With that, I invite all of you to pick up one of these passports and then pass through that port to see what the fabulous new Duke Residence Hall has in store for you.
Thank you for celebrating with us.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz