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From the president: Practicing what we preach

Thoughts on lifelong learning, commitment to diversity, and reading

By President Karen M. Scolforo
On September 10, 2019

When the editors of the Spartan newspaper invited me to write a regular column, I thought, here is my chance to share some thoughts, to offer a window to the corner office on the second floor of Woodruff Hall, and to offer my own unique perspective on topics relevant to Castleton University today. I am the leader of an academic institution, and, as such, I accept responsibility for modeling a passion for education. A first-generation college student myself, I know that the pursuit of higher education—and the completion of pursued degree(s)—has allowed me to explore and sustain challenging employment, learn through travel, engage in healthy living, and positively influence and impact the lives of family members, friends, colleagues, and business partners. Through daily journaling and reflection, I have come to adopt a certain philosophy on these matters: that every person we come in contact with has a lesson to teach us, that exposure to different cultures and perspectives helps us to expand our view of the world, and that reading is the conduit—a teleportation, of sorts—to understanding.

 

Student Advisory Council to the President

Last fall I invited Castleton University Spartans to serve on my inaugural Student Advisory Council to the President. At its inception, we set a goal for innovation and problem solving, with the idea that students would complete a unique project, such as a documentary or poster presentation, to offer to their fellow Spartans prior to Commencement. This relationship-building concept was to offer new ways, different from the roles of Student Government Association, to connect on personal levels and promote continual improvement. Our inaugural council of 30 students met (with me) for our first meeting in early September, upstairs in the Old Chapel on a hot, humid summer day. Imagine the lot of us jammed together, fanning our faces with the printed agendas I had intended for structure and note taking. As it turned out, introductions took up most of our time that day.

As our subsequent meetings progressed, so did the purpose of our group, which decreased in size and organically evolved into something very different from where we began. We spent a year of learning about each other, developing content and strategy, and fine-tuning our approach and messaging. As we looked ahead to the upcoming year, we agreed to rigid meeting agendas, each designated with time to share updates, and a distinct focus on student-selected topics for in-depth discussions. Our discussions exceeded my expectations for our group, as did every one of the participants. I learned, and I look forward to learning more. Anyone interested in learning more about our council should reach out to Rita Geno in Woodruff Hall.

 

Celebrating Diverse Perspectives

I would love to see hundreds of students from across the globe flocking to Castleton University for our affordable, high-quality education, our passionate and learned faculty and staff, and our safe and healthy campus living. In return, these students, like the many international students and new Americans among us, challenge our perspectives, expose us to new ways to experiencing the world, and offer unique ideas and solutions. Our culture differences teach us tolerance, patience, and acceptance. Together, we improve our listening and observation skills, we achieve higher emotional intelligence, and we become better educated.

 

Reading and Writing

I love to read. I believe that the written word is the foundation to all disciplines (yes, even math), a conduit to understanding, and a portal to unexpected places and ideas. I try to read a couple of books every month, mostly literary fiction. I would love to engage in a book club or a writing group on campus. By sharing our own unique perspectives, we can learn so much from each other, and enrich our reading experiences, as well as our day-to-day lives.

 

- Castleton University President Karen M. Scolforo

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