All of us attending the school’s 170th Convocation exercises knew we were in for a high flying talk when Professor Jim Ralph (dean of faculty and professor of history at Middlebury College) took the podium just as an F-16 screeched by on exercises from the nearby National Guard base in Chicopee. That airplane, with its telltale sound and unmistakable power (in what seemed like choreographed timing), ushered in Professor Ralph’s stirring endorsement of what a Williston education can accomplish. Institutions like Williston, he said, “Are remarkable vehicles for inspiration and creativity.” As a Harvard-educated professor who began his teaching career with a year-long internship at Williston, Jim has a perspective born of time and place.
As if Jim’s words were the script for what followed, we were all treated to the creative imagination of our Fine Arts department on exhibit and at work during the Reed Center reception that followed Convocation. Williston’s Fine Arts teachers are second to none, and guests who were able to spend some time in the galleries would affirm the truth of this statement. Professor Ralph issued a call to arms for all students to “conceive of themselves as citizens of the world and thus recognize how interconnected they are to other peoples across our planet.” All of us in education, and particularly here at Williston where the resources are in place to accomplish just about anything, know how attainable and noble a goal this is.