Come for the Class Notes, Stay for the Conversation

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How do you read the Davidson Journal? Many alumni start with the class notes, working forward to the features about people whom we long ago knew would transform an industry, lead a school district or build healthcare capacity across the globe.

The Journal helps sustain connections among friends. Its arrival reassures us that leaders cultivated at Davidson now serve throughout states and across oceans. Twice annually, the Journal offers inspiring facts about this place so many called home for four years: graduation numbers and honors, awards for teaching or research or experimental programs that are gaining notice in higher education.

True to its name, the DJ is also a journal. It offers a forum for ideas—a reflection of the college itself. It’s another place where we come together to ask hard questions and pose conflicting arguments, just as we do in classrooms, club gatherings, open symposia and across tables at Summit Coffee. The Journal extends those conversations beyond campus to alumni, families and friends.

Make no mistake. We continue to broadcast Davidson’s leadership with spotlight stories about our alums, such as those providing college counseling in underserved high schools, the then-chief of staff to the Secretary of Defense, a first responder saving lives after a devastating flood, acclaimed authors or, in this issue, a zoo vet contributing to scientific knowledge every day as she diagnoses ailments in dozens of species, none of whom can tell her what’s wrong.

The DJ also embodies the promise of the college to challenge and help all of us think critically and to hear views possibly different from our own. Likely no one agrees with all of the essays published here. (If you do, we’re probably doing something wrong.) These articles, typically from or about our own distinguished scholars and students, aim to stir conversation and even debate. We hope readers relish it.

That’s what happens every day on campus. We recruit students from all backgrounds so that they learn alongside of and from each other, sharing different perspectives and experiences. We want them to work through any discomfort so that they learn to build persuasive arguments based on clearly stated principles and facts, skills that can then play out in the town hall of ideas, whether it’s the Q&A session following a high profile guest speaker on campus or a cluster of overstuffed chairs in the atrium of the Wall Center or the new Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

That contest of ideas, across disciplines and in the intriguing places where they overlap, gives Davidson graduates the ability to reframe a problem, to look at it a different way and find a solution.

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About Author

Carol Quillen

Davidson College President Carol Quillen has engaged the college community in reimagining the liberal arts experience within the changing landscape of higher education and an increasingly interconnected world. Quillen became the 18th president of Davidson College on Aug. 1, 2011.

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