It is August in Lebanon and that means only one thing … classes are about to begin.
By now you all know this is one of my favorite times of year. As we get ready to welcome a new class and greet our returning students, we know two things for certain; 1) when these students graduate they will go into the most diverse working population our country has ever known; and 2) in order to be productive in any profession they will have to know how to communicate and work with people who are different than they are.
Many colleges and universities talk about global citizenship, diverse learning environments, the importance of a diverse student population, the importance of study abroad opportunities and the like. At McKendree we also believe in the value of these types of programs and opportunities and are working each day to provide them for our students.
Are we having any impact, you ask? Well, I would invite you to immerse yourselves in the feature articles on the pages that follow this letter. You will find an inspirational story entitled “Finding Common Ground,” which chronicles how a group of our students spent their spring break in Nicaragua on a cultural immersion trip. You will experience through their own words the emotions they felt and the impact the experiences they had have had on each of their lives.
You will find an article celebrating the long relationship of this University and the Tanaka family. Through three incredible programs our students are exposed to the generosity of one man who wishes to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Japan and does so, in part, by bringing McKendree students and faculty to Japan each year.
Finally, you will be able to read about the lasting impact of programs like these on our alumni in an article entitled “Alumni Serving Others Around the World.” These individuals were so profoundly changed by their McKendree experiences abroad that they continue to live and work in other countries making an impact on the people served by their work.
So I ask again, are our initiatives in global citizenship having an impact? I would suggest they are. I hope you will agree, and I hope you share our enthusiasm for enriching our students through these programs and others like them. I’ll close by issuing you an open invitation to come to visit campus this year. Our students and faculty are doing extraordinary things and you owe it to yourself to enjoy a McKendree Experience of your own one day soon. Hope to see you on campus!
James M. Dennis