Aaron Chapin’s desk resides in the southwest corner of the President’s House, with terrific sight lines to the corner of Chapin and College streets, the Indian mounds, the oaks, Middle College, and the signature, glorious beauty that constitutes that vantage point on our campus.
No matter the time, the date, the season, or the year, there is a curious behavior, a nearly ubiquitous behavior that happens as any car approaches this corner to round the bend. As people approach the college sign, their pace slackens, and their eyes move from the road to the sign to the mounds to the oaks to Middle College.
Think I’m making this up? Next time you are on campus, take 10 minutes and watch. Watch and wonder where their mind’s eye is traveling.
It is the time of the year when the college rounds another kind of corner. It’s that time when we glance ever so briefly back upon the recently completed academic year.
The special cover of this issue of the magazine broadcasts a host of accomplishments and accolades. It celebrates stories of great generosity, and whets the appetite for our future. It provides evidence of a college setting a heart-thumping pace. Remarkably, five years after the start of the “Great Recession,” the college seems unpredictably healthy and twitching to sprint forward.
I am a college president and given to gushing. But there’s proof here, not only my words. Look again at the wrap enclosing this issue. This proof comes to us from the new author of that seminal guidebook, Colleges That Change Lives. It comes from peers whose input earned Beloit College the #6 spot on a U.S. News list of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, based on our faculty’s commitment to—and certainly, skill within—the classroom. And while it’s hard to swallow anything outside the top 10 after a showing like that, even the popular Princeton Review ranked Beloit similarly well, including our classroom experience at #17 nationally.
This praise is worthy of passing around one more time as we take our pulse here at the end of our year. And I haven’t even mentioned the return of the Beloit Relays; recited the many co-authored research studies published by our faculty and students; pointed to the latest crop of class-leading, team-captaining, Presidential Scholarship-winning first-year students we’ve recruited; or crowed about the near-deafening buzz that has been following our faculty leaders and provost as they navigate the lecture circuits and conferences talking about the Liberal Arts in Practice—the curriculum they built from our past (the Beloit Plan) and that governs our future.
But I’m going to save what’s left of my space to point out something else—to point toward a better indicator of our health and our vibrancy than all these other, wonderful accomplishments.
Beloiters last year gave $3 million to the Beloiter Fund, which supports the annual operating budget and makes possible student scholarships and research experiences, faculty programs and development, and improvements to our historic campus. Three million dollars that could have gone so many other places, but came back here. For Beloiters, by Beloiters.
This is 10 percent more than last year’s record goal (30 percent more than three years ago), and therefore this is, more than anything else, a victory. For all of us. For Beloiters.
That dollar figure represents investment, trust, and caring. It proves our alumni care, more than anything, about the students of today. Students they don’t even know.
Those dollars go immediately to helping Beloit College attract, retain, and educate the next generation of Beloiters—people who will also want to underwrite that experience for new, faceless students in the future.
Talk about mouth-gaping ambition and generosity.
This year, we’ve got three million reasons for students of the future to believe in Beloit. That’s unprecedented.
Life has a lot of corners. We’re rounding one right now. Thanks for slowing down with me to look at that view. It’s worth lingering on.
And now … Fast Forward! From here at Chapin’s desk looking out at the mounds, the oaks, and Middle College. It is a great day to be a Beloiter.
-President Scott Bierman