2005 reports: William Jewell College: Great expectations - Word&Way

2005 reports: William Jewell College: Great expectations

By David Sallee, William Jewell College President

I recently spoke to William Jewell's first-year students in the first of a series of Monday morning meetings arranged around the topic of student success. My assignment was "Expectations," what I would expect of them and what they could expect of the college.

 I asked them to consider this quote from Eric Hoffer: "In times of change, the learners will inherit the earth, while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

We are in the business of creating "learners," whom we hope never become complacent as "knowers." Nearly everything we see happening in the world today supports the idea that the ability to learn for a lifetime is critical.

In 30 years of higher education, I have come to believe strongly in the power of and importance of expectations. I think that none of us achieves beyond either the expectations we have set for ourselves or those held for us by someone else.

In recent years, Jewell students have been Truman Scholars and Goldwater Scholars and athletic champions and successful musicians and student researchers. One of the reasons they have achieved important things, beyond having talent and working hard, is that someone expected them to.

While not all students will achieve at the level of some of our prestigious fellowship recipients, we can all achieve more than we often think we can. To do so, we encourage our students to engage fully in the experiences (academic and otherwise) available to them, investing their time and energy.

We also expect them to be responsible for their education. We provide nearly limitless opportunities, but students are responsible for using those opportunities well.

I also shared with the first-year class what they can expect from the college.

They can expect the faculty and staff to challenge them, to expect them to work hard, to improve in all aspects of their lives. At the same time, they can expect support when they need it, again in all aspects of their lives.

Ernest Boyer said that a great undergraduate education moves students from competence to commitment. I would add that at Jewell we add in a dose of confidence; the full experience at Jewell — the challenge, the support, the responsibility — creates a graduate who is ready to live a competent, committed and confident life. (10-19-05)