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February 2020

Date Published: Monday, February 24, 2020


By President Thomas S. Hibbs

After three days of productive and enthusiastic board meetings at the end of last week, we turned our attention to a large recruitment event, Scholars of Excellence, for which we welcomed 180 high school seniors and their parents to campus. I had occasion to speak to the students on Friday night and the parents on Saturday morning.

I began by stressing the remarkable academic and co-curricular opportunities here at UD and how these prepare students for whatever they are called to do upon graduation. These opportunities include internships, research, training in the skills of writing and analysis, and faculty mentors across all our schools and colleges who know our students well enough to write detailed, compelling letters of recommendation.

But as I quickly added, our education is not set up with these ends in mind. They are impressive and happy byproducts.

UD education is about understanding our place within history and tradition, within the great quest stories to which we are heir. But it is never merely antiquarian. We inhabit living traditions and are encouraged to avoid romantic nostalgia. The texts, the classes, and the inquiries, experiments and investigations that we pursue aim to inform life here and now and prepare us to go forth with conviction, humility, hope and confidence into a world that is increasingly characterized by amnesia about the past, angry certitude, and lonely despair. The art of conversation, both inside and outside of class, and the habits of wonder and gratitude that the UD education inculcates set the conditions for enduring friendships.

In fact, the board had the opportunity to hear precisely these sorts of stories from two of our graduating seniors. Michelle Carlson is a biology major who will enter a Ph.D. program in biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame in the fall. Andrew Butler is a business major who will work for Goldman Sachs immediately after graduation from UD this May. Both Michelle and Andrew stressed the intrinsic value of their liberal education and the deep friendships they made at UD. While they have chosen different paths for their futures, I’m confident they will carry UD’s unique culture with them.

As I watched UD from afar and not so afar in recent years, I have been impressed with how many remarkable events UD hosts each year. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to give a speech — What Is Truth?: The Question Modern Universities Can’t Answer — at the American Public Philosophy Institute’s annual dinner.

The Gupta College of Business recently hosted a conversation with David Woodyard, the President of Catholic Charities Dallas, as a part of their Leaders and Legends Speaker Series.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be giving a public lecture about Makoto Fujimura — What Has Faith to Do with Art? — on March 11 and then hosting him for the 2020 McDermott Lecture on March 25.

I continue to witness the philanthropic expressions of gratitude and support from members of the UD community. Many of you contributed to the 2020 Cor Challenge, raising $200,000 for our students and faculty. Special thanks goes to the Class of 2019, who won the class challenge with 68 donors and 33% of the class participating. If you missed an opportunity to contribute to the Cor Fund through the Cor Challenge, I hope you will be able to join us at the 20th Annual Galecke Open on April 20. All proceeds from the Galecke Open support the Cor Fund.

Thomas Hibbs Signature

Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83