Saturday, May 11, 2013

(116) A Vision of What the University of Rio Grande Can Be: Remarks and Afterthoughts Upon Being Named Professor Emeritus

AMDG

An aerial view of the University of Rio Grande in Southeastern Ohio.



       Early May is the time for graduation at college campuses across the country.  Today my daughter Naomi received her Associate Degree in General Studies at the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College (the third of my children to do so and the fourth is following the same path) almost three weeks before she will receive her high school diploma at Gallia Academy High School......thanks to a program financed by the state of Ohio where the student may study in a local college and receive high school and college credits simultaneously.  As professor emeritus I marched in the graduation ceremony with the active faculty.  After hearing a number of speeches, I remembered the one I gave seven years before.  

     There at the University of Rio Grande in southeastern Ohio, 12 miles west of Gallipolis, I was a member of the faculty of the School of Business from 1995-2005. On May 6, 2006 I was granted the title of Professor Emeritus at the Founders' Day program after having retired the previous October.  At the time Founders' Day was a blend of Baccalaureate Service, presentations of awards mainly to students, and a tribute to the founders of the then College of Rio Grande in 1876.  The actual graduation ceremony followed in the afternoon.  

      Below are the remarks I made that day to the students, faculty, and staff present upon my being named Professor Emeritus and some afterthoughts inserted later which are in italics.  Even though required to keep it short, I wish I would have had the presence of mind to have included some of those afterthoughts in the original May 6 talk which was well received.  It is part of the appendix at the end.  It purports to give a vision of what the University of Rio Grande can be.  There has been significant progress in raising standards since then, but much work remains to achieve the dream I described.  May the current faculty and administration keep forging ahead.
A number of views of the University of Rio Grande campus.
    REMARKS & AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BEING NAMED PROFESSOR EMERITUS
By Dr. Paul R. Sebastian

        Thank you so much for this great honor.  It is indeed an honor because the emeritus status makes us forever a part of the Rio family, which I love so much.  It is such a privilege to teach here and to play a part in the personal and professional formation and development of Rio students.  I also thank all of those who have helped me along the way. 

       May we never forget the original most noble vision and mission laid out by our founders and their values as well.  May I encourage my very able colleagues to continue to carry on that mission, to carry on the academic torch by raising standards to help make our students the best for God, Country, community, and family.  We need the best to compete and serve in the job markets and in the product markets of a very competitive global economy.  We don’t need memorizers of facts and definitions, but rather professionals able to apply general principles learned in the classroom to unfamiliar and unique situations far different from the examples in class.  

      To be able to compete and serve effectively, we need innovators of new and better goods and services at a lower price, more efficient methods of production, more effective ways of managing our organizations and the economy,  administering our governments, and controlling against societal abuses. We need creative thinkers from the arts and humanities to technology, management, health care, social work, communications, and especially education; we need problem solvers in new and strange situations, effective communicators of the oral and written word, researchers able to discover principles and quickly find information, people able to read rapidly with understanding.  Rio is capable of producing a large number of such high quality professionals.

       We must choose as an institution between on the one hand a mentality of minimum compliance, just enough to keep everybody happy in the short run…..which leads to mediocrity OR on the other hand a university culture that demands that our students be the very best they can be in the professions they choose…..which leads to true excellence in the long run, not simply a meaningless cliche for public relations.    

      Our students are very capable with tremendous God given potential.  A united faculty with God’s help and strong backing by effective administrative leadership along with the Learning Center to overcome poor high school preparation......all working together can perform miracles.  By stretching our students to their maximum potential with hard work and sacrifice, developing their thought processes, and forming them with integrity and character, self-discipline and perseverance. individual responsibility and reliability, interpersonal cooperation, social responsibility and ethics …..our Rio faculty and coaches too will tap the greatness that is in each one of our Rio students. We may lose a few students who will drop out, but the great majority will adapt and we will gain a reputation for true excellence as a top regional university and attract more students in the long run. 

    Much of this can be done not only in the classroom, but also in extracurricular activities and on the athletic field through the wonderful NAIA Champions of Character program that could revolutionize intercollegiate athletics through its five pillars of respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership, and sportsmanship.  

      Then the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College, as a top regional institution with true excellence, will send out an army of dedicated and well formed servant leaders and competent professionals, each with his or her own sense of mission, who will make a very positive impact on the socioeconomic development of southeastern Ohio, on our society, on our country, and on the world. 

        In closing, I would like to say to the graduating students here the same as I will say this afternoon along with a bear hug to those whom I have had in class: “Congratulations and don’t forget your great mission for God and Country”.  Thank you so much and God bless.

* The parts in italics were inserted as afterthoughts after I gave the talk. Although under a time constraint, I wish I had the presence of mind to have included some of them on Founders’ Day.   The original text as delivered on May 6, 2006 is below.


APPENDIX – SOME OLD NOTES AS A REFERENCE

            As you study, try to develop your thought processes: to think clearly, reason logically, arrive at your own conclusions through your own observations, interpret data, analyze situations, discover principles, resolve problems, read rapidly with understanding, to do research, stimulate your creative powers, to express your ideas orally and in writing.  If you, your employees, and your children have these reasoning skills, they’ll be successful at almost anything or in almost any responsible position.  You’ll be able to keep learning all of your life with no need for a teacher.  One of the main purposes of any university is to develop the student’s abilities and thought process so that one day s/he could learn by himself without any teacher.  Companies don’t want memorizers.  They want problem solvers and creative thinkers who can come up with new ideas for new products, greater quality, more efficient processes, and better ways of doing things.  That’s the way to beat the competition obtain greater sales and profits.  On the job, the problems you face will be much different than the examples in class.  We must be accustomed to apply principles from known situations to new, strange, and different situations.

            At the same time, try to develop personal values and attitudes so indispensable to personal development and the economic progress of any country in the world.  That is, basic honesty, individual responsibility, reliability, self-discipline, perseverance, inter-personal cooperation, social awareness, and..... a spirit of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to God, country, community, family, and neighbor.  I’ve seen it so clearly in living here and for periods of time in Canada, France, Mexico, and Peru plus traveling all over the world how a mentality of greed, dishonesty, selfishness, exploitation, laziness, and corruption produces its own consequences in all parts of the economy in low productivity, high costs, high prices, labor conflict, resentment, social chaos, crime, stagnant economic development, and more economic crises.  Without God having to raise a hand, man ultimately punishes himself. 


ORIGINAL REMARKS AS DELIVERED ON MAY 6, 2006 
 
         Thank you so much for this great honor.  It is indeed an honor because the emeritus status makes us forever a part of the Rio family, which I love so much.  It is such a privilege to teach here and to play a part in the personal and professional formation and development of Rio students. 

           May we never forget the original most noble vision and mission laid out by our founders and their values as well.  May I encourage my colleagues to continue to carry on that mission, to carry on the academic torch by raising standards to help make our students the best for God, Country, community, and family.  We need the best to compete and serve in the job markets and in the product markets of a very competitive global economy.   

          To be able to compete and serve effectively, we need creative thinkers; we need problem solvers in new and strange situations, effective communicators of the oral and written word, researchers able to discover principles and quickly find information, people able to read rapidly with understanding. Rio can produce a large number of such high quality professionals.   

          Our students are very capable with tremendous God given potential.  A united faculty with God’s help and effective leadership can perform miracles.  By stretching our students to their maximum potential with hard work and sacrifice, developing their thought processes, and forming them with integrity and character, self-discipline and perseverance. individual responsibility and reliability, interpersonal cooperation, social responsibility and ethics …..our Rio faculty will tap the greatness that is in each one of our Rio students. 

          Then the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College, as a top regional institution with true excellence, will send out an army of dedicated and well formed servant leaders and competent professionals, each with his or her own sense of mission, who will make a very positive impact on the socioeconomic development of southeastern Ohio, on our society, on our country, and on the world.  Thank you so much and God bless.

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