50th Anniversary Events

50th Anniversary Opening Convocation Remarks

The Remarks of Dr. Lloyd W. Chapin

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty | Watch Video

Dean Lloyd ChapinA great teacher in the Jewish tradition, Martin Buber, once asked rhetorically, "What do we expect when we are in despair and yet go to another person?" His answer was, "Surely a presence by means of which we are told that nevertheless there is meaning."

Buber's response to his own question reminds us that one of a teacher's primary roles is to be a bearer of meaning. We look to teachers to provide coherence in the face of uncertainty and confusion, insight in the presence of ignorance and anxiety.

A great teacher in the Christian tradition, Augustine of Hippo, wrote in his Confessions about the mentor who transformed his life, Ambrose the bishop of Milan, "I came to love him, not at first as a teacher of truth, but for his kindness to me."

Augustine reminds us that all good teachers are more than sources of information or even wisdom. They are more than bearers of meaning. They are also motivators who have the ability to inspire their students not only to learn but to change and grow. Augustine points out that this ability to inspire is grounded in a teacher's commitment to care, to want not only to inform but help those who come in search of meaning and of themselves to become better than they are.

A number of years ago a student wrote about her mentor, a member of Eckerd's founding faculty, "He saw more in me than I saw in myself. He got more out of me than I knew was there." In those words she captured the experience that has been shared by generations of Florida Presbyterian and Eckerd College students. What has set Eckerd faculty apart from the beginning and continues today is not just the quality of their scholarship, although that is comparable to the best of other institutions. It is the depth of concern for the wellbeing of their students and the desire to bring forth their best.

During this 50th anniversary year, as we celebrate the vision of our founders, the generous support of so many, and the achievements of our graduates, we also celebrate the quiet heroism of those who in Chaucer's immortal words, "gladly learn and gladly teach"; those who day in and day out, year in and year out, in good times and bad, in classrooms and laboratories, studios and rehearsal halls, and in the quiet of their offices serve as the meaning bearers and motivators, the enlighteners and inspirers -- the faculty, and the heart, of Eckerd College.