We talk a lot about experiences at Randolph College. Whether it is experiential learning, internships, research, or invigorating debates that occur in the residence halls, an important part of the education that our students receive is found outside of the classroom.
Part of our job—and one we take seriously—is to expose our students and the broader Lynchburg community to different viewpoints and to people who are not like they are. By listening to others who have different experiences and opinions, our students learn to think critically and form their own perspectives. One way we do this is through special events and interesting speakers on campus.
During the election season last fall, we partnered with the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce to hold a political debate on campus between two Virginia delegates and later brought former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean to speak to a large audience in Smith Hall Theatre. Throughout the year, other visiting artists, writers, journalists, and business experts shared their stories and expertise with our students.
Our favorite speakers are often our alumnae. In the spring, we were pleased to bring Frances Mayes ’62 to campus for a special event. In addition to her public talk about Tuscany and her new book, Mayes also found time during her visit to meet with students and community members and share her memories of the College. Speaking about her experiences with the Poetry Tree and her professors at the College helped Mayes connect with our current students and helped them see how their education can lead them where they want to go.
This fall, we expect a large audience when Randolph hosts another exceptional speaker, Richard Dawkins. It does not matter whether or not one agrees with Dawkins’ often controversial belief in evolutionary biology or his skepticism about religious faith and creationism. We can all learn from the experience and from hearing someone speak passionately about issues. Please join us this year for Dawkins’ speech or for any of the other exciting events and speakers we have planned. (Find calendar information at www.randolphcollege.edu)
John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, said, “You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.” It is our hope that through the many experiences we offer our students, faculty, staff, and surrounding community members, they too will put their thumbprints on the world.
John E. Klein