Something New Under the Sun

October 26th, 2010

Last Friday, I shared my vision for the College with the members of the boards of the College Foundation and the Benefactors Society. Here is an excerpt from that speech, reflecting on the influences that have defined and guided the College. It is a story about the cultivation of character and virtue, the importance of relationship and place, and the value of cognitive diversity. -MW

Ernest Boots Mead, who taught Music in the College, once told me about a young man who wrote his final exam on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a beautiful but elusive piece. It consists of thirty movements that explore, through a series of harmonic and rhythmic variations, a theme—but the theme is fleeting and discrete. At the end of the essay the student wrote this postscript: “Mr. Mead, I have experienced many variations in my life. Now, I am in search of a theme.”

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