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Posts from the President Vol 12

I won’t apologize for being one of those people that repeats themselves. One student recently told a number of Providence supporters that he constantly hears the phrase, “Knowledge and Character for Leadership and Service.” This phrase encapsulates the Providence mission. I use it a lot, so I am guilty, but without apology.

The phrase is quite deliberate. Like any university Providence is concerned with the transfer of knowledge. We also are like many other institutions in that we train leaders for the next generation. The other two words, character and service, are distinctly Christian. Our purpose goes beyond the transference of knowledge to the development of character.

In some recent news articles, people have discussed the value of a university education. This value is usually stated in terms of dollar value. How much does a university graduate earn over a lifetime compared to someone who does not have such an education? Or what sort of academic major returns the most economic value to the person and to society. Governments then make allocations on this ROI.

How can one place a value on character? What is the value of honesty, altruism, compassion, spiritual and social maturity, critical yet respectful engagement with diverse people, or a heart to serve, all of which can be summed up in the biblical concept of wisdom?

Various biblical proverbs try to attach value to character. Here’s one: “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gains understanding, for the gain from her is better than the gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15).

At Providence we wish we could develop the character of every student. More often than not we have some success, but it is difficult to measure. Nevertheless, we know that character is a value that goes beyond what one can earn. It’s worth the effort!

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