Message from the Dean

 

Linda Maule

Resilience and Perseverance

Dr. Linda S. Maule, Dean University College

Life is  either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~Helen Keller, the Open Door

 

One fails forward towards success ~Charles F. Kettering

 

Welcome New Sycamores:

In this welcome letter, I usually would provide you with some advice on how to approach and successfully complete your first year of college.  I would remind you to seek help early and often, work tirelessly to overcome obstacles, learn from the mistakes you will invariably make and take advantage of every opportunity afforded you.  However, this year I have chosen to focus on the importance of building bridges.

The Indiana State University family, to which you now belong, is rich in its diversity.  Students who attend Indiana State University come from all over the world and represent many cultures, religions and world views.

This year, I challenge you to push beyond your comfort zone and meet individuals who “appear” to be different from you and who in the past you may not have made an effort to acknowledge let alone know.  The fact is, in the 21st Century, we continue to live in communities often segregated by race and/or socio-economic class; and while this segregation is de facto and not de jure, it still ensures many of us have been raised in communities where our neighbors for the most part look like us, practice the same faith and may even share the same political views.  Now that you are at ISU, you have the extraordinary opportunity, and I also would say privilege, to meet and perhaps even befriend individuals who practice different customs and hold different political views than you.

But meeting people from different backgrounds and who have taken different journeys is not the same as building bridges.  Thus, I challenge you to also build bridges.   Building strong sustainable bridges is hard work and it requires a certain predisposition.

To build a bridge that authentically connects you to/ with another person, you must believe at the most basic level all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual or gender identity, social class, politics, religious/spiritual affiliation, physical or mental ability, age (etc.) deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. 

Embracing the aforementioned values does not mean you must agree with or adopt the other person’s practices or beliefs or world views.  However, it does require a willingness not only to hear their perspectives, but also to really listen to and attempt to understand them.

Listening also does not exclude lively, civil debate over contested strategies to solve complex problems (poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, the national debt, increased automation, environmental degradation, health care, education, etc.).  It is an exhilarating intellectual experience to participate in a smart, fact-based, multifaceted, nuanced discussion about serious social conundrums.  After all you are the generation who must solve those problems and it is my hope that through robust, thoughtful and incisive discussion, you will be the generation (by building bridges) who will develop new paradigms and innovative solutions.

Concomitantly listening, or even participating in civil debate, does not exclude denouncement or condemnation of bigotry or hate when you come across them.  And, unfortunately since, in practice, it takes two to build a bridge some bridges may not come to fruition.

That said, for this year let Ralph Ellison’s statement, “Education is all a matter of building bridges” guide you as you work to get know the members of your Sycamore family.