An educated person
president focuses on authentic conversations AT FORUM
During her annual State of the University address titled, “Authentically Calling In: Seeking Truth with the Ear of the Heart,” President Jane Wood called on the campus community to focus on finding truth through authentic conversations of “responsible citizenship” and “service to all peoples” as outlined in Bluffton’s mission.
During the presentation, President Wood shared a wide range of information include updates on enrollment, graduation outcomes and strategic planning initiatives, but she primarily focused on the question: what does it mean to be educated?
Students responded with answers including “constantly seeking more information” and “being open minded and knowledgeable in a lot of different things.”
While agreeing with them, Wood shared a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “[t]he test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
There are many truths, explained President Wood during the presentation, but how does Bluffton’s campus community begin to find them? According to her, through the authentic conversations and experiences alluded to in her speech title.
The “calling in” message comes from the actions of Loretta Ross, an African American
scholar and activist who worked with former hate group members. Through her work,
Ross learned “calling in” people to dialogue, despite disagreements, worked better
at changing minds and hearts than calling people out. For Ross, building culture and
achieving justice was “not a matter of what you do, but how you do it.”
Loretta Ross Ted Talk >
Sixth century monk St. Benedict inspired the “Ear of the Heart” portion of the presentation.
“Benedict believed you have to do such deep listening that you are finding ways to listen to people with your whole heart,” explained Wood. “Imagine having an ear in your heart so that everything you are filtering comes through in a way that is loving and caring.”
After sharing personal stories of her parents’ ability to have disagreements while remaining loving and respectful, despite their differing political ideologies, Wood pondered what has changed since the 1960s and 70s to make having articulate conversations difficult.
Thoughts included recent recessions, gun violence, racial violence and a pandemic, but a sticking point was technology.
“Technology has changed the ways in which we talk to each other or don’t talk to each other,” said President Wood. “But calling in is what we need in this digital age. Calling all of us in to dialogue, discussion, problem solve to figure out things together. Where better to do that my friends than on a campus community devoted to that very practice?”