Jan 5, 2011
Dear Ohio University Students, Faculty and Staff:
One of the traditions of this time of year that I enjoy is reviewing the “best of” lists that appear in various publications and websites. They provide me with new things to add to my must-read, must-watch or must-listen to lists. They also remind me that even in a world where we are constantly inundated with consumables excellence can still prevail. This is a timely reminder as we move into the work of this quarter.
Universities typically do not produce “best of” lists. But if Ohio University were to create such a list for 2010 it would be filled with the outstanding art works, papers, books, films, videos, awards, service activities and performances of our students, faculty and staff. It also would be a list that would wrap around the globe as our extraordinary alumni earn distinction for their diverse contributions to their own fields of endeavor and to their own communities.
Curiosity, knowledge, passion, creativity and humility—all the elements that make something noteworthy—can be had in abundance at Ohio University. They will persist even in the face of challenges as long as we actively seek to cultivate them and use them not only in our teaching, scholarship, creative activity, and service but also in everything else that we seek to accomplish from the completion of the University Environmental Scan to the development of a multi-year budget plan.
One of the books that appeared on some of the “best of” lists was Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. Critics have hailed the book as a lively and engaging introduction to the work of the great sixteenth-century essayist Michel de Montaigne. I pick this work out of the many that appeared on “best of” lists because the author’s fresh approach to her subject illustrates what curiosity, knowledge, passion, creativity, and humility can create. It also allows me to quote Montaigne’s essay “Of Experience” where he wrote that “a spirited mind never stops within itself; it is always aspiring and going beyond its strength.” Montaigne’s observation is a good reminder of what we seek to foster in a learning community dedicated to the work of transformation.
Executive Vice President and Provost