Summer 2012 Open Letter to Liberal Arts Students
Last November, when I wrote in the wake of the difficult events we were then experiencing, I cited Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet in which he wrote about the need to "live the questions" so that eventually we might live our way into the answers.
Today I write again, now in the wake of the Sandusky verdict, when some of those answers have been lived and others remain daunting and elusive. Dispersed as you now are during the summer, you are likely facing questions about Penn State, the verdict, and its implications, without having the benefit of the support your Penn State community provides.
I write then, to remind you of two things.
First, as students in the liberal arts, you are well equipped to respond with grace and insight to the questions you are receiving. You understand that answers are often ambiguous, demanding yet deeper and more substantive questioning; you see how the news media feeds on stark contrasts and easy oppositions; you recognize the complexity of the issues we face as a community, and your liberal arts education affords you the ability to reflect critically on them and to imagine new and productive ways of responding. I invite you to bring the full weight of your liberal arts education to bear on our ongoing attempts to live the questions we face now and into the fall semester.
Second, our community of liberal arts colleagues is never so far dispersed that we cannot engage and support one another through our various online venues. Please join the ongoing conversations we are having on our blog and on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. We are working hard to cultivate an online community rooted in the liberal arts undergraduate experience and your voices are vital to this endeavor.
We here in the College of the Liberal Arts are focused on responding as best we can to events as they unfold even as we prepare for a large new class of freshman set to begin in the fall and the return of our impressive group of rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. You can look forward to meeting with your academic advisors, who stand ready now as ever to help you navigate your way toward graduation.
We also have a number of new resources available to you through our Career Enrichment Network. The Network is designed to enrich your education here at Penn State and position you for success after college. Our Network Symplicity software allows you to post your resume for feedback and search for internship opportunities. In addition, the Leadership Enrichment through Assessment and Development (LEAD) program will roll out at the start of the new academic year, allowing you to identify your strengths through a series of on-line and in-person assessments. These are exciting new resources we offer to help you identify your future career path.
As we continue to respond to events as they unfold, we also look forward to your return to campus with renewed optimism about the future we will make together.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Christopher P. Long
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Professor of Philosophy and Classics
College of the Liberal Arts
The Pennsylvania State University
Note: If you or any of your colleagues need to talk with a professional counsellor, please don't hesitate to call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 814-863-0395 or go online at: http://www.sa.psu.edu/caps/schedule_appointment.shtml
For emergencies: http://www.sa.psu.edu/caps/crisis.shtml
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