Every day we are reminded that our world is increasingly interconnected. Though we are each proud of our own heritage and cultures, we are discovering that what we have in common is considerable and our connections continue to expand.
Global markets demand our attention; crises thousands of miles away have an immediate impact not only on our security and our human empathy, but also our economy. The media binds us more closely together, and perceptions of nations and cultures are shaped, in part, by the Internet and YouTube.
Our 2011 commencement speaker, former U.S. Senator Russell Feingold, reminded us that the global knowledge resulting from this connectivity can be incomplete at best, and, at worst, has resulted in others presenting our nation and its people as an “ugly caricature, if not an outright false portrait of America.”
Lawrence University and its many global connections — several of which are presented on the following pages — are confirmation of the profound importance this university places on promoting understanding and respect for our global community. The importance we place on deepening the global perspectives of our students and of the entire campus community is central to Lawrence’s mission of “the cultivation of sound judgment”, “respect for the perspectives of others” and for “prepar[ing] students for lives of achievement, responsible and meaningful citizenship.”
And it has been that way for decades. Many of our alumni remember their study abroad experiences as defining moments in their education. Others fondly recall the deep bonds they have with Lawrentians who were students of a culture very different from their own. Still others took their Lawrence education and shared their knowledge and skills, post-graduate, in a country far away, in a place very different from Appleton.
Deep understanding and appreciation of other cultures has never been more important than it is in this rapidly changing global community, and the university continues to place a very high priority on ensuring that the Lawrence community is globally oriented, and also that it is compassionate, inclusive and respectful of differences.
Senator Feingold called on the Class of 2011 to become “citizen diplomats,” to share their culture in positive ways when travelling abroad as they begin their lives after Lawrence. It is a message that should resonate with all members of the Lawrence community.
The campus is quiet following Commencement and Reunion Weekend last month, and I want to congratulate all members of the Class of 2011 and also those who returned to campus to reconnect and relive memories with their former classmates. Nine graduates, the students of Posse 1, received their diplomas June 5th, and I want to thank them for bringing their individual leadership and their cultures to campus. They blazed a trail for the other members of this distinguished program, and the Lawrence University campus is a better place because of them.
Enjoy your summer!