"The Future is Watching," President Bottoms Tells DePauw's 694 New Students
August 18, 2007
August 18, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - [Download Video: "Meeting the Challenge of Tomorrow" - 1709kb] "The future is watching what we will do," DePauw President Robert G. Bottoms told the University's incoming students at this afternoon's opening convocation. "How will we react?" Dr. Bottoms addressed an audience composed of DePauw's 694 new students and their parents -- as well as DePauw's entire faculty -- which filled Kresge Auditorium in the soon-to-be-dedicated Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts.
"We are living in a time when the world is becoming such a small community and we are so mutually dependent upon one another," Bottoms stated. "We have talked in the past about the business interests among countries: the ideas and the goods and the services. But now we're beginning to realize that if we have a true program of sustaining the universe, globalization means we need to cooperate one with another."
The entering class -- one of the largest in recent years -- includes more than double the number of international matriculants and about 11% more valedictorians and salutatorians than the group that arrived in Greencastle in August 2006. A total of 45 new undergraduates are coming to the University from 19 foreign countries, 31 as matriculants (versus 15 last year) and 14 as exchange students. Excluding international students, 16% of the incoming class come from multicultural backgrounds; that grows to 22% if the international total is included.
"We have worked so hard at DePauw in getting ready for you to come into our community," the president said. "And we have attempted to create the kind of community that has enough diversity in it from all over the world and all over this country," he added.
The entering class is of a generation that may have to make very difficult decisions and change behaviors to combat problems such as global warming, Bottoms said. DePauw will have a campus-wide focus on the issue of sustainability this academic year, he noted, with October's DePauw Discourse dedicated to environmental issues. [Download Video: "Cooperation" - 547kb] "We not only have to learn science, we not only have to adapt the way we live, we have to learn to cooperate."
The man who has led DePauw since 1986 told the new students, who hail from 35 states, "We've created a laboratory so you can begin to learn to cooperate with people with other cultures so that we can solve some of our common problems. [Download Audio: "Seize the Opportunity" - 237kb] So my advice to you is to take advantage of this laboratory. Meet and greet and interact and learn from the students in your class who may come from a different culture, from a different background. We need this kind of cooperation, this kind of learning, if we're to change the way we live over the next few decades."
The speech was Bottoms' final address to an entering class. He announced in April that he will step down from the presidency of DePauw next summer to become Chancellor of the University.
Speaking to a group that had spent the bulk of the morning and early afternoon moving into dormitories, President Bottoms spoke of the lessons that can be learned and passed along from the writings and teachings of history's great change agents, citing Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.
[Download Video: "Making a Difference" - 601kb] "I trust at DePauw you will read your texts carefully," Bottoms told the new undergraduates. "You will have your imagination stimulated, you will learn to live with determination. You will leave this place in four years determined to use your education to make a difference in the world."
DePauw's 170-year history of graduating leaders should also provide inspiration, Bottoms told the students, pointing to the work of former congressman and Iraq Study Group co-chair Lee Hamilton ?52; Karen Koning AbuZayd ?63, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; Janet Prindle '58, a pioneer in socially responsible investing and benefactor of the new Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics; and bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver ?77.
[Download Audio: "Tremendous Contributions" - 176kb] "They sat where you're sitting now, and I bet you, if you could interview them they had no idea when they were in the first year of college they would ever have a career like the ones they have had. But they used their education and what they learned to make tremendous contributions to this world," Bottoms said. "How will you participate in the world??
In closing, the president quoted the aforementioned Dr. King, who once said, "Our lives end the day we become silent about things that matter." Bottoms offered, [Download Video: "The Closing Message" - 1511kb] "Our goal at DePauw is to help your minds to grow, and our hope is that you will learn never to be silent about things that really matter."
Forty-one of the incoming students were valedictorians or salutatorians in high school, five more than were in last year's entering class. Twenty-two percent are first generation college students (vs. 15% in 2006), while 20% of enrolling students have DePauw alumni ties (up from 18%). The median high school grade point average (unweighted) of the new class is 3.64. The median class rank is 90%.
President Bottoms opened his remarks by joking to parents, [Download Video: "A Light Moment" - 1024kb] "Some of you are leaving your first child with us; some of you are leaving your last child with us. Some of you will cry all the way home; others can't wait to get to the car. The same thing probably holds true for the students."
The complete speech is available for download: [Download Audio: "Complete Address by President Bottoms" - 14612kb].
Incoming students also heard from John L. Schomburg ?08, DePauw's student body president, as well as Neal B. Abraham, the University's executive vice president, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.
After the convocation, students met with their faculty advisers, while parents attended information sessions. At 5 p.m., the new students will begin saying their farewells to family members. Classes begin Wednesday, August 22.Back