When I was approached to introduce President William G. Durden ’71 at the on- and off-campus First in America capital campaign kickoff events, I accepted immediately. This would provide an outlet to express how much Dickinson means to me and an opportunity to take part in a truly important moment in the college’s history.
At the Philadelphia kickoff on Oct. 7, I encountered many people dedicated to this institution, to the intentions of founder Benjamin Rush, and to making them happen. When I was listening to alumni talk about their Dickinson experiences and to others who have been working tirelessly to improve the college, there was a certain energy that I can only describe as inspirational magic. I had the very real feeling that Dickinson is finally rising to its own challenge and that our future accomplishments as a community will be as majestic as our aspirations.
In my introduction of President Durden I stated that Dickinson is not a place that one attends for four years and then forgets about soon after; not only does the college help to define its students, but it is defined by its graduates.
When ascending the steps of Old West at Convocation to sign the register book—and ourselves into the history of the college—each of us forges a bond that extends beyond the limestone walls and beyond the next four years. Here we learn about lifelong passions and accountability. This is the place that taught me French and inspired me to write an honors thesis in that language. It is where I see professors and students opening up to each other, sharing their interests and creating imaginative ways to incorporate them into their daily academic lives.
In all of our explorations, for the whole of our lifetimes, we act as Dickinsonians because we continue this commitment to learning and understanding. We are Ben Rush’s vision and achievement, even more so as we rise to the challenge of the capital campaign. It is an exciting time because, more than ever, we are defining Dickinson in revolutionary ways.
Across academic halls and across the world Dickinsonians are engaging the world—our distinctive way of doing so is proving to be increasingly important. I relish being a part of this community now, being a part of this generation of Dickinsonians, because the vision, the vocabulary and the actions of the college are becoming clearer, more attainable.
Dickinson’s larger initiatives, like the new science complex and the commitment to enlarging student financial aid, certainly stem from Rush’s ideas. But the subtle, daily interactions between members of this community are essential to fulfilling his wishes. There are no haughty barriers between students, professors, administrators and staff here; we respect each other, learn from each other, and often go out for coffee together. Anything is possible here: If you want to study abroad in Tanzania, the Office of Global Education will help you. If you want to create a charity event for something important to you, the community will offer its support.
What is asked of Dickinsonians is nothing short of integrity and sincerity as we endeavor to improve ourselves and our world. We also must be willing to continuously work toward these improvements. It is a lofty proposition, but one for which we have all acquired the necessary skills and fervor.
I hope to live up to the vision that I have of a Dickinsonian and, by so doing, ensure that Dickinson College remains a place for education in its most revolutionary and useful form for generations to come.
Alicia LeBlanc, a French and English major from Georgetown, Mass., hopes to move to France and work for a magazine after graduation in May.