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President Bierman's Commencement Address 2014

President Bierman

Please use a No. 2 pencil to circle your answer. You will have 30 seconds to complete this survey.

  • Did you have at least one experience at Beloit that excited you intellectually?
    YES   NO  
  • Was there at least one faculty or staff member who actually cared about you?
    YES   NO  
  • Was there at least one faculty or staff member who was encouraging of your future?
    YES   NO  
  • During your time at the college, did you have to complete at least one significant project (i.e. semester length)?
    YES   NO  
  • During your college career, did you have to apply your education in non-classroom settings at least once?
    YES   NO  
  • And, finally, during your Beloit career, did you participate in significant extracurricular activities?
    YES   NO  

Put your pencil down while I compile your score and compare it with your fellow Beloiters. There we have it. 100 percent. You scored 100 percent. And your fellow alumni? Well, let’s see. Yes, 100 percent as well.

Congratulations. Unanimously perfect. You did wonderfully. And Beloit College? Even more so.

You see, these six questions are asked by Gallup and Purdue University in a highly touted study led by the Lumina Foundation, designed to answer the “value question.” The value question is THE question today; it preoccupies college presidents, U.S. presidents, and worried parents across the nation. Are there, they wonder, breadcrumbs that lead from lives of great purpose and well-being back to baccalaureate origins?

A person, presumably, who answers “yes” to all of these questions received a very valuable education indeed. And if this seems like a low bar, well, think again.

A college graduate able to answer “yes” to these six questions is far more likely to have found meaning in their work; to have found relationships in their life with people of substance and purpose and caring; to have found pathways to comfort and material stability; and to have found a local community that they care about and that cares about them.

It turns out that nationally only 3 percent of college graduates are able to say “yes” to all six questions, including only 3 percent of college graduates at private, exclusive not-for-profit colleges. Three percent versus 100 percent.

Your experience at Beloit was gloriously different. You know that. Three percent versus 100 percent.

But let’s be honest. Occasionally, you wonder. State U. has brand sparkle. And those peer institutions that Beloit is so often compared with, they’re fine places, too. But, there is still the question of how to explain 3 percent elsewhere versus 100 percent at Beloit.

I am guessing the answer includes Tom McBride, Marion Fass, Brock Spencer, Natalie Gummer, and many others. Carol Wickersham and Bill Flanagan. And probably Coach DeGeorge, Bill Conover, and Cecil Youngblood are statistically significant. And what about Milt Feder, Bob Irrmann, and Marion Stocking?

Did they care about you and your success and your future? Think about your field term or study abroad, your internship, capstone project, or Liberal Arts in Practice experience. Isn’t it likely the 3 percent versus 100 percent is explained there?

Now, mix in those life-changing, page-turning courses you completed—in the sciences and the humanities; the arts and the economics of social change.

And don’t forget Ultimate. Or improv. Don’t forget Sigma Chi, or Kappa Delta, or Music House. Remember the life-defining skills you earned on the field at Strong or on the court in Flood.

Because you are able to answer “yes” to these six questions, and you are among the 3 percent of college graduates who could do so, you are well over 500 percent more likely to live the type of life you want to live. To live a life of purposeful consequence. To be happy and fulfilled.

Of the 30,000 college graduates who took the Gallup-Purdue survey, only 3 percent could say so much.

Three percent versus 100 percent. How great is that?

From here at Chapin’s desk,

– President Scott Bierman 

The 3% Undergraduate Experience: Numbers & Facts

  • Percent of Students with at least one internship before graduation:
    (Over 25% of those say it led to their first job)
  • Who Employs Beloit College Graduates fresh out of College?
    First employers of Beloit graduates have included Groupon, IBM, American Dance Festival, Americorps, Bates White Economic Consulting, Centers for Disease Control, The Smithsonian National Museum, and The Washington Post, to name a few.
  • Funds awarded for student projects every year:
  • Post-graduate performance:
    Beloit ranks 20th out of 2,000 degree-awarding institutions for producing future Ph.D.s. We rank 11th among the nation’s most selective liberal arts colleges for our proportion of alumni receiving Ph.D.s.
  • Average class size:
    15 students
    . One third of classes have 10 or fewer students.
  • Students & Faculty:
    student-to-faculty ratio; the student body consists of 1,208 men and women from 46 states and nearly 40 foreign countries; there are 110 full-time faculty, 95% of whom hold a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field.
  • Affiliations:
    Beloit is a member of the Science 50, International 50, and Business 50 consortia. We are one of the nation’s top 21 undergraduate colleges for training future leaders in science, international relations, and business. We are also a member of the Keck Geology Consortium and the Pew Midstates Consortium for Math and Science.

A gift to the Beloiter Fund—For the Greatest Impact will continue to ensure that Beloit graduates are part of the 3% of students nationally who are getting the most out of their college experience and go on to live “lives of purposeful consequence” as a result.