We spend a lot of time listening to students, parents and alumni. As a campus community we take these voices quite seriously in understanding our shared work as learners. This is demonstrated in small, but significant ways. Each year our board of trustees welcomes five students who serve as representatives to our board, along with five members of our faculty. Student and faculty voices are important to the board in both plenary sessions, as well as in various committees.
Our established faculty committees include student representatives, as do search committees for any open faculty and senior administrative positions we are seeking to fill. The administrators who serve on our senior leadership team meet with members of the Student Senate both individually and collectively. Our parent council meets regularly and provides advice and counsel to the administration on programs, services and activities of the campus. Our alumni are heavily represented on our national advisory council, which serves as a think tank and sounding board for new ideas and opportunities. There are countless examples.
Taken together, these varied opportunities for interaction have illustrated for me the reason Central College has enjoyed success, despite periodic headwinds, for more than 160 years. Everyone associated with Central wants to be engaged with a community that fosters a strong sense of belonging.
We want to know we are accepted and can actively participate in the life of the campus. We don’t want to pretend to be someone we are not. At the core of our community is a deeply held value that everyone matters and all voices are respected.
We value exploration and discovery. For students, the benefits are obvious. So many come with an intended major in mind that evolves as they experience the richness of curricular and co-curricular life. An inspiring course, an internship, a study abroad opportunity or a service-learning project will often lead to a new self-awareness and sense of possibility. For all of us the constant call is to embrace creativity and innovation as we seek to be students of our own practice. Getting better at what we do is a direct result of having the courage to try new things.
Those associated with Central want to be the very best they can be given their individual talents and abilities. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Success is defined by each member of the campus community as he or she strives for personal excellence, while accepting responsibility for collective
well-being. Ours is a campus culture that encourages individual expression.
In the end, it’s about living in community and realizing that our individual achievements are rooted in