M U H L E N B E R G    M A G A Z I N E W I N T E R    2 0 0 2
President's Message

Photo of Arthur R. Taylor
There are very few people in higher education, or who seek to attend colleges, who do not know that Muhlenberg College owns the phrase The Caring College. How did that come about? It came about because caring has always been a matter of priority here. What we have done in recent years is to focus on this attribute and make sure that it is distinctly ours among competitive colleges. It has been a central element in our great success to date in the number of applications, in acceptance rates, and in visibility. When these elements are combined with a superior faculty and a highly talented management group, the positive results are what the friends of Muhlenberg College are witnessing.

Now other colleges have begun to catch on and you will find the word caring in annual reports from other places. We are not threatened by this, because we know how hard it is to develop, invest in and make known to others the true components of The Caring College. This has always been the way that great forward movements are achieved. Those of us who have been involved in entrepreneurial activities know how incredibly difficult it is to start something from nothing. We did not do this here. What we did was build on what we already had and strengthen it, grow it, give it high visibility and make sure that those who are interested in Muhlenberg College know about it.

Caring does not mean that Muhlenberg is not academically or athletically rigorous. It is. What it does mean is that any undergraduate or any other person related to Muhlenberg College, including alumni, will get all the help they need if they are in any kind of difficulty. Our Caring College is an outreach college. We reach out to our students who need help and provide them with intense academic counseling, intense counseling for those who have learning difficulties, psychological counseling if needed, and, for all, a career development office that has had splendid results. (Ninety percent of the senior class placed by September 1 following their senior year).

Now we start again on what is a most important move for the College and for Kathryn and me. Many of you know that Kathryn and I believe that our relationship with this College is the calling of our lifetimes. We wish to leave it, when we leave, with the strongest possible platform so that it continues to grow into what all of us wish it to be; namely, a college of the very first rank in America, one that stands for principles and that all know of this. I personally feel that what we are about to embark on, although risky, will have a dramatic effect on creating a unique college in America that will be a model for others. Experts who have viewed this prospective development, which I will explain below, have said, "your college will be a model for the nation."

All right, what is this notion? For two years, some of us have been studying what we believe is needed at this college (and other colleges, particularly those that unlike us have limited contact with their students and, therefore, have jettisoned any responsibility for personal behavior). In December the faculty supported unanimously, the concept which the trustees had voted unanimously to adopt, namely to become the College of Caring and Character. The word character may be changed because it is somewhat subject to interpretation, but for the moment, it is a reasonable working title. Muhlenberg College will inject into its curriculum, in virtually every course, by example, by debate, by historical precedence and by future, over-the-horizon projections, thoughts about the following elements: Honesty, integrity, honor, patriotism, responsibility, accountability, respect, civility, loyalty, and human balance. The faculty is very excited about this, as I am, for we give them a new opportunity to do what they are meant to do, which is to bring light to students.

Now, no one is going to sell or force these principles of instruction or of counseling or of behavior. The principles will be communicated in the ways I have described above. Every student and every faculty member is more than free to reject them, but when all is said and done, at least we will have given our students, upon graduation, some sign posts, which even if they at first reject them, they will carry with them for those periods in their later life when they may very well need them.

* This is the first of a number of articles in which President Taylor will address the future of the College.

previous page CONTENTS next page