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Curiosity as Power

February 13, 2019

The “confidence to be curious.”

That’s one of many things that Katie Kowal BA ’17 learned from her physics professor, Shannon O’Leary. Working with Shannon, Katie told the Oregonian, “completely changed how I see myself as a student, how I see myself as a person. In my day-to-day job now, I use curiosity to disrupt power structures— because I’m not afraid to be curious.”

Curiosity and the courage to act on it helped propel Katie to exceptional academic and athletic excellence, a national science policy fellowship after graduation, and, now, a Rhodes Scholarship. All this and more from the double major in physics and political science who once said, “When I came to Lewis & Clark, I was ambitious, but I felt lost in terms of where my drive would lead.”

I imagine most of our students at some point know that same feeling. Which is why we work hard to ensure that all of them have access to the same core resources that served Katie so well: our faculty and their focus on teaching, research, advising, and mentoring.

Here, opportunities to collaborate and explore—to let loose curiosity—are not the province solely of academic superstars. They are available to every student in ways that meet individual needs. This is not simply a point of pride. It is, even more, a matter of equity and the right thing to do. It is also the best way to prepare our students to succeed now and in the future.

We push all our students to develop the creativity and mental agility required by rapid changes in society, technology, and the world of work. Solutions to global issues and challenges require interdisciplinary approaches. If curiosity is the spark that ignites exploration, collaboration is the energy that advances it, leading to new discoveries and new understanding.

All of this is why our new strategic plan doubles down on the liberal arts and sciences. Our plan puts students, along with the people and programs that support their success, at the center of everything we do. It reaffirms our commitment to values that ensure our graduates have the world-ready skills to be true global citizens. And it sets the actions we will take to strengthen and expand our resources.

Because when you’re not afraid to be curious, and you have the support to develop the skills to act, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish, to the good you can do.

Wim Wiewel

Exploring for the Global Good:
A Strategic Plan for Lewis & Clark

Last October, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved our new strategic plan, which provides the high-level guide for our success as a leading liberal arts college with outstanding professional schools.

The plan to advance Lewis & Clark includes our Vision, Purpose, and Values statements, as well as 23 objectives organized around six goals:

  1. strengthening, differentiating, and promoting our academic experience;
  2. attracting, enrolling, and graduating students who will succeed here;
  3. improving the physical infrastructure;
  4. strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts;
  5. recognizing and rewarding our faculty and staff; and
  6. completing a comprehensive fundraising campaign.

 Read and download the full plan.

The Chronicle Magazine

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