President’s Letter, Summer 2009

President Thomas Hochstettler shares his thoughts on his journey to and from Lewis & Clark College.

It has certainly been uncommon, this journey Marcia and I have been taking since we met as students at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). Wonderful adventures followed in California (where we added Will and Taylor to the family), Maine, Texas (and Ben), Germany, and Oregon. Now we are off to the United Arab Emirates. Everywhere we go, acquaintances become friends and encounters turn into memories. Our work at the American University of Sharjah will only enrich the experiences we already treasure.

Some time ago we began thinking about where we might settle when retirement rolls around. Ann Arbor, for many good reasons, rose to the top. But Lewis & Clark changed our thinking.

That is no surprise, of course. Lewis & Clark challenges all of us to think in new ways. Marcia and I are grateful to all of you for making this campus and city a true home for us. We look forward to returning to Portland after our work in Sharjah.

Departures are perfect opportunities for looking forward, so my last letter in this space is less a summing up than a summoning–an invitation to look ahead to the future we are building today:

  • An institution continuing to thrive due to its dynamic community, vibrant culture, and deeply rooted values
  • Even more robust and highly integrated learning taking place among our three schools
  • Ever-growing evidence of extraordinary international reach and momentum
  • Unparalleled leadership across the institution

Ours is a future shaped by people and principles. Our people make us a college of conscience, committed to bringing justice, diversity, and social responsibility alive in the world. Our culture honors ideas and celebrates open inquiry. Our values stir us to pursue intellectual rigor, wisdom, and leadership in ways that advance knowledge and serve others. Community, culture, and values shape our character and ensure that continuing progress is our destiny.

Ours is a future of growing collaboration across all three of our schools. Consider Lewis & Clark’s emerging partnership with OHSU’s Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. This ambitious venture will convene each of our schools to research what it means and what it takes to maintain healthy river-to-ocean ecosystems. How? By focusing on what happens to the Columbia River as it flows between Oregon and Washington and meets the Pacific Ocean. Exploring this issue’s many dimensions, sharing lessons that emerge, and translating discoveries into meaningful public policy requires cross-disciplinary knowledge that only we can bring to bear through our expertise in the liberal arts and sciences, graduate education, and law.

Ours is a future of extraordinary international reach. Our recent invitation to join the Luce Scholars Program, the increasing numbers of Davis United World Scholars we enroll, our status as a top producer of faculty and student Fulbright Scholars, our expanding overseas study destinations, recent global initiatives launched by our schools: all foretell even more distinctive academic and public leadership by Lewis & Clark in the global community.

Ours is a future of gathering momentum. Witness solid benchmarks of progress across the institution, including the stellar faculty we are recruiting and retaining; our deepening connections with alumni; the spirit of renewed energy across student life, including the resurgence of athletics; the increasing engagement bringing friends and funds to Lewis & Clark; and our measurable progress in admissions and retention.

And ours is a future where all of this becomes reality through the consummate leadership now in place at Lewis & Clark. We have the best deans in the country and unparalleled experience directing our finances, fund-raising, business operations, and other mission-critical areas.

Benefiting from this leadership, I have had the constant privilege of working with and learning from a terrific provost. I am overjoyed that Jane Atkinson is the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees to lead Lewis & Clark as interim president. Jane’s knowledge of and dedication to our community are legendary. Her impact is inspiring.

Marcia and I depart knowing that Lewis & Clark is with us in ways no place else has been or is. That is why I refer to “our” rather than “your” future, and why our departure is very much in the spirit of auf Wiedersehen and not good-bye. It is also why, even though we earned degrees etched in maize and blue, the cheer that most stirs our hearts is this: Go Pios!

Thomas J. Hochstettler