Dickinson College Homepage Dickinson Magazine This issue of the Dickinson Magazine was mailed on Tuesday, December 26, 2006
From This Issue
Volume 84 • Number 3
Winter 2007

From These Grounds
President's Letter
By William G. Durden ’71, President

Dear Dickinsonians:
With this issue, we celebrate the launching of the most ambitious capital campaign in Dickinson’s history. It is a historic turning point for our college that builds on our extraordinary recent momentum and promises to propel us into an even more impressive future. The success of this campaign will bring us closer to the highest aspiration of our founder, Dr. Benjamin Rush—to be considered permanently among the nation’s premier liberal-arts colleges, to be, in his words, “First in America.”

By definition, capital campaigns focus on raising resources for specific purposes—in this case, for faculty development, scholarship support, a new science facility and augmentation of the Annual Fund. Our capital campaign is a strategic means to reclaim, through our own personal investment, our connection with our alma mater and to remind ourselves of what it means to be a Dickinsonian.

As alumni, we have experienced a distinctive liberal-arts education that has allowed us to develop a set of shared dispositions that will forever characterize us as true Dickinsonians. Handed down to us by Dr. Rush, these five dispositions are the habits of mind that distinguish us among our peers; they are the qualities we strive to instill in our current and future students, enabling them to perpetuate the Dickinson tradition.

What are these Dickinson dispositions?

  • As Dickinsonians, we possess an acute global sensibility grounded in a deep appreciation of languages and cultures. We operate confidently in unfamiliar environments as we pursue intellectual interests in the context of global affairs. We demonstrate a strong commitment to inclusiveness, pluralism and democracy as we seek to build bridges of communication with the amazing variety of people we encounter.
  • We possess an intellectual flexibility that allows us to make meaningful connections among people, ideas and disciplines. Where others see only disparate dots, we see the value in connecting those dots. We eagerly seek the intersections of seemingly incongruent ideas, recognizing that these interdisciplinary crossroads spawn new discoveries, knowledge and paradigms that will shape our future.
  • Our Dickinson experience also has taught us what it means to engage the world in every sense of the phrase. We move easily beyond that which is comfortable to embrace intellectual risk and gain self-knowledge and, by practicing leadership in useful service to society, we work constantly to build a just, compassionate and economically viable society.
  • As Dickinsonians, we assume a responsibility to speak out on issues of importance to us and to society, arriving at our positions through informed and reasoned reflection. Although our ideas sometimes may be unpopular, we have the courage to remain tenacious in the face of adversity, exercising respect, civility and a sense of humor when communicating with those whose views may differ from our own.
  • Finally, as Dickinsonians, we understand the importance of accountability and sustainability. Driven by integrity and modesty, our personal achievements are informed by our sense of responsibility to the greater good and the ecological, financial and social consequences of even our smallest actions.

These five dispositions, introduced on campus this fall, have now become common topics of discussion. It is no accident that our more purposeful articulation of Dickinson’s defining principles accompanied the kickoff of our capital campaign, for campaigns should engender a good deal of institutional soul-searching to ensure that our compass is accurate and our trajectory secure.

Lengthy conversations with key constituents about needed resources invariably led us to specify the ultimate purpose of our endeavor, and that is the responsibility we have: to give future students every opportunity to develop these dispositions to prepare them to lead in the complex, contemporary world.

Your accomplishments as alumni already have made these dispositions reality for so many of our students. This capital campaign gives you yet another opportunity to lead by example.

As you join with us to move our college forward, always remember that an investment in specific campaign priorities, ultimately, is an investment in our students—the very essence of Dickinson. It is an investment that is destined to bring us closer to Dr. Rush’s goal, to be “First in America.”


Dickinson College, PO Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-243-5121