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Office of the President

Thanksgiving Message from the President

Dear Members of the Mount Ida Community:

I write to you as we begin our Thanksgiving break and the weeks leading up to the conclusion of our first semester.

Time moves quickly on a college campus, mirroring the energy and enthusiasm of our students. It seems only moments ago that I was greeting freshmen as they registered and found their way around campus to class and team practices. Now, many of our students will be heading home for Thanksgiving, opening their homes to classmates from school, who will not be traveling the distance home during this short break.

At a time of dislocation in our nation, I am struck more and more by the thoughtfulness and maturity of our students, by their sense of purpose and direction in an unstable world. We see these personal qualities in our students at Mount Ida, not only in conversation but in what they accomplish each day on and off our campus. Lights burn late into the night in the Design School studios, in our Applied Science laboratories and in our media and business classrooms. Practice on the turf field and in the gym begins at dawn and does not end until the lights go off toward midnight. In the Campus Center, Commuter Lounge and residence halls, students converse at all hours, informally and in the growing number of clubs and organizations on campus – reflecting, in each instance, their youth and indomitable faith in the future.

What does this commitment to hard work and enthusiasm mean for them and for us, their teachers, parents and our communities? It very much signals that, in the face of social strife and uncertainty, our young embrace a future that will ensure their well-being.

Their commitment to shared ideals provides hope for us all in our collective future. Our role, as their mentors, is to equip them in ways that, heretofore, were beyond the range of the college experience – not only to provide substantive instruction and learning for future jobs and professions, but to help develop the interpersonal skills to allow students to build successful personal and professional relationships, and the sound judgment to make good life decisions.

In part, the growing need for colleges to provide support for social growth and development, along with critical learning and analytical abilities, arises from the increasing complexity of the means and methods of social interaction, personal and digital, and the concomitant opportunity at a residential college to nurture students to live and think independently and to master varied forms of social interaction and discourse – ultimately, to develop the competency and confidence to advocate for themselves, for their goals and for their ideals.

Mount Ida is in the forefront of fully embracing its institutional responsibility to provide structures of support for our students navigating this transformational time of intellectual and personal growth. This support is delivered by success coaches, student life staff members, experienced athletic coaches, proactive health and counseling services and by fostering a community which strives to engage with each student as the adult they will soon become.

At Mount Ida, our community is without barrier or boundary. We express and embrace many points of view and lifestyles and, as a result, have achieved a social foundation that is based upon respect and steadfast support for the free expression of ideas and opinions. We are a community without rancor or rage that celebrates its diversity and its multiculturalism. We are a community grounded in compassion and fellowship.

The result is transformative – and those of us who are privileged to be part of this process of growth and development at Mount Ida bear witness to the extraordinary change that occurs in each student who grows from adolescence to become successful, articulate and confident adults.

Some of that change comes home to parents each Thanksgiving. More questions, more introspection, more thoughts about the future – all reflecting growth, maturity, heightened observation and a broader understanding of the world beyond our campus.

So, to our parents and Mount Ida families, we hope you truly enjoy the time with your daughters and sons over these holidays. We miss them already.
To our faculty and staff, I express our enormous pride and gratitude for the work you do each day to help our students navigate a complex world and to assist them in creating a pathway to their own achievements.

It follows, then, that my prayer for each of you, at this moment, is a simple one: that the harmony, compassion, good humor and respect that is the hallmark of this great college embrace our homes, our communities and our nation.

Wishing each of you and your families a season of health, happiness, and peace.

Barry Brown