Listening, Learning, Leading
January 18, 2011
“So, what did you learn today?” It’s the question that everyone hears after the first day of school, and it’s how my wife, Betsy, greeted me after my first day at Lewis & Clark. I answered right away: “The students at Lewis & Clark are careful readers!”
That morning, in an e-mail to the community, I said, “If we cross paths, please introduce your self.” My words have never been heeded so well. Throughout the day students stopped me time and again, introducing themselves and sharing their stories. I learned about their own aspirations as well as those they hold for Lewis & Clark. And I learned too that I needed to leave more time to make my way across each of our beautiful campuses.
But ultimately this outpouring of goodwill was no surprise. Welcoming newcomers comes naturally to this community. In a short time, Betsy and I have already been made to feel at home.
Along with many of you, we cheered the Pios at a football game and marveled at an impressive student production of Romeo and Juliet on the very same day. Downtown in November, we were introduced at a Literary Arts lecture featuring acclaimed author Bill Bryson. Sponsored by Lewis & Clark and benefiting Writers in the Schools, the event was evidence of our college’s deepening relationship with Portland’s premier cultural, civic, and business organizations.
And just a few short weeks ago, we joined the Lewis & Clark community in celebrating the news that Tamma Carleton B.A. ’09 had been named a Rhodes Scholar. She’s one of just 32 students in the United States to receive the prized scholarship for 2011 and one of only three from liberal arts colleges.
It is clear that Lewis & Clark’s strength comes from what we all have in common: each of us is dedicated to putting students first. Providing them the best possible education and preparation for success drives everything we do.
Here, regardless of job titles, we are all educators. Our vital task is to prepare the next generations of leaders, those who will meet tomorrow’s challenges, here in Portland and around the globe.
At Lewis & Clark we care deeply about our city and its people. Every issue of the Chronicle shows how involved we are in schools, organizations, and businesses, and how active our alumni are as leaders throughout the United States and worldwide. Betsy and I are thrilled to join you in continuing to ensure that advancing knowledge goes hand-in-hand with being engaged in civic life.
Much of my first year as president will be spent listening and learning. I have already met with many of our extraordinary faculty, as well as business leaders and elected officials in Portland, and I will soon be meeting more of the Lewis & Clark family in other cities and regions. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be reaching out to long- time friends as well as new supporters who can help provide the resources we need to fulfill our ambitions.
I am especially looking forward to getting together with alumni, parents, and friends. Each of you has a story to tell, and your stories will help inform my own thinking about how we move ahead together.
So, what have I learned during my first few months on the job? Ask a lot of questions, listen with respect, honor the traditions of the past, and look forward, with great optimism, to the promise of the future.
© Robert M Reynolds