Letter from the President
President William G. Durden '71
Rush established Dickinson for the most noble purpose imaginable—so that its graduates could become the leaders and engaged citizens who would ensure the success of the new American democracy.
Rush envisioned a liberal education that was distinctively American and specifically tailored to prepare students to meet the challenges the new nation would face. Unlike the approach offered in many European universities that valued learning for learning’s sake, Dickinson’s curriculum was designed to provide students with a rigorous, activist, pragmatic foundation that would ready them for participation in the new government and the emerging American economy.
For Rush, the preservation of a democratic society was the single unifying principle and overarching sense of purpose that gave cohesion to this new American education. Every course was designed with explicit commentary on the degree to which the knowledge gained therein would contribute to participation in that democracy. It was to be, above all, a useful liberal arts education that allowed Dickinson graduates to pursue through lifelong commitment the betterment of their society.
Today, Dickinson continues to be guided by Dr. Rush’s timeless vision as we seek to prepare our graduates to make their mark in the complex and challenging world of the 21st century. A Dickinson liberal-arts education offers students every opportunity to embrace new ways of thinking, solve problems creatively by connecting ideas across traditional disciplines, understand the global implications of all issues and actions, and speak out responsibly and civilly on the most pressing concerns of the day. Our curriculum reflects the shifting demands of our time as we develop avenues of study that will allow our graduates to contribute in fields including law, medicine, health services, scientific research, the arts, business and finance, environmental studies, education, religion, the military, and government and public service.
Dickinson’s commitment to foster a forward-looking community of inquiry is evident today in lively discourse among students and faculty; in student-faculty research and publications; and in our commitment to the creation of new knowledge that comes from the imaginative interaction among disciplines that is so evident in the design of the Rector Science Complex.
Dickinson students experience a truly global education, not only in Carlisle, but through our more than 40 study-abroad programs that now reach six continents and 24 countries. More than half of all courses at Dickinson have a global focus, and globally minded traditions and practices are an integral part of campus culture. The majority of Dickinson students study or engage in research abroad. And when they return to Dickinson, they bring a sophisticated global perspective that enriches the entire college community.
Our campus is also keenly aware of the environmental challenges our global society confronts, and we have made sustainable living a cornerstone of both campus life and the academic program. Our commitment to sustainability can be seen in the way we operate our facilities and in the coursework and programs offered by our academic departments.
Today, Dickinson expects its students to develop and maintain the same commitment to contribute to our democratic society that Rush so fervently upheld. I invite you to learn more about our distinctive and useful liberal-arts education and our revolutionary spirit which is as vibrant today as it was more than 225 years ago.
William G. Durden ’71