Welcome, Mary Dana Hinton.
The College of St. Benedict and all the residents of this area should be proud of Hinton, who was installed Sept. 21 as CSB’s 15th president in its 100-year history.
Anyone who heard Hinton’s excellent inaugural speech last Sunday will rest assured that, under her leadership, the deep and abiding Benedictine spirit will not only endure but be strengthened during this new century.
Hinton made it abundantly clear she is committed to the liberal-arts tradition that instills in students not just personal job-oriented education but the need for a lifetime of service to others.
Hinton wisely calls that process “transformation” and a way of “becoming illuminated.” Implicit all through her speech was the idea education should enlighten and energize so it grows and prospers in socially connective ways that enhances the larger community, the larger world. The Benedictine tradition combined with the liberal-arts approach is the way to reach that intellectual and spiritual transformation, that illumination.
Hinton spoke of the need to resist pressures to make the nation’s 4,000-plus colleges and universities too much the same, a kind of cookie-cutter leveling process.
“At the College of St. Benedict, however,” she said, “we will squarely focus on illuminating a path that continues to embrace the liberal arts. While there may be external pressures to the contrary, let’s never forget we are educating for transformation.”
Increasingly, many colleges are narrowing the focus of education to job-orientation with less or sometimes no regard for the liberal-arts courses that can help make people into well-rounded social beings. It’s refreshing to know Hinton is determined not to let CSB lose its well-rounded, socially connective focus – something the Benedictine founders here lived by, preached and practiced with hands-on work throughout the area.
It was also good to hear Hinton’s emphasis on understanding the college’s past and its traditions, while learning from them and improving upon them always. Hinton, in fact, used examples from her own past to explain how she arrived at her present vision for CSB – her mother’s insistence she get a good education and, later, the series of opportunities education allowed her to welcome, a series that led her to her current position as CSB president.
“I invite each of you at the dawn of this next era for the College of St. Benedict to reflect on your own personal opportunities, to consider the personal paths you would like to light,” she said. “Every person in this auditorium also has the responsibility of affording an opportunity to another. What single opportunity can you illuminate for someone else? What opportunities before us will enable us to walk in the light of creative altruism? . . . I invite each of you to walk with me. Together we will walk far. So let your light shine.”
It’s going to be an exciting journey.
Again, welcome, President Hinton, to this college, to this community.