An Even Brighter Future
The students are back, excited for a new year. I am particularly delighted to see them after 18 months of online or hybrid education forced on us by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite my pleasure in this return to near normal, I am mindful of the enormity of the challenges ahead of us. First, we need to ensure we can keep our campus safe. I feel confident we can meet this challenge. We were the first Oregon college to announce a vaccine mandate, and all but a handful of our faculty, staff, students, and contractors are fully vaccinated.
Our second major challenge is ensuring Lewis & Clark has the financial wherewithal to continue to provide the superb, personalized education that is our hallmark. Students who come here expect one-on-one attention from faculty and the ability to learn from their fellow students. They also expect an excellent campus environment and state-of-the-art classrooms and buildings.
It is a privilege to be able to provide this sort of education — and a privilege to receive it. It makes institutions like ours the envy of the world. But it does not come cheap!
That said, the world benefits greatly from what we do here, and from the compassionate, globally aware leaders and strategic thinkers we graduate. It stands to benefit even more in the future, as life becomes increasingly complex and global issues proliferate.
Knowing this, we must take steps to increase the number of students we matriculate and graduate. And we must be creative and thoughtful about how we do so, making sure to include more students of color and others from diverse cultural, economic, and geographic backgrounds.
Students like Ochuko Akpovbovbo BA ’21, a Davis Scholar, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, who graduated with a degree in economics and entrepreneurship. Currently an assistant category manager for Adidas, Ochuko is also founder and CEO of Parachute Media, a unique online media outlet that creates content for and by Gen Z women of color. Or like Jackson Thein BA ’18, from Burns, Oregon, who graduated with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, earned his master’s degree in public health in Scotland, and is now working for Senator Jeff Merkley in Washington, D.C. Or Brendan Creemer BA ’21, a former Californian who overcame vision and hearing challenges to graduate with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. Brendan is now a postbaccalaureate IRTA Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.
Lewis & Clark can help launch the next generation of Ochukos, Jacksons and Brendans. To do so, we must invest in scholarships; in upgrading our laboratories and our classrooms; in building new student gathering places; and in maintaining and improving our beautiful grounds.
This is why we launched the public phase of our $155 million Exploring for the Global Good campaign earlier this year, with $100 million already raised! It is why I will be devoting the lion’s share of my last year at Lewis & Clark to bringing the message of that campaign to supporters around the country and the world. And it is why I urge you to join me in contributing to this important effort to secure an even brighter future for Lewis & Clark and the global citizens we educate here. It will take all of us, working together, to support the people, places, and programs that make up Lewis & Clark.