Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, men and women of the Eckerd College faculty past and present, staff colleagues, students, and honored guests: Welcome. Listen, lovers of learning, lovers of language, which surely includes all assembled here. Listen as Gerard Manley Hopkins gives us a text and an invocation for this special and long-awaited day for our College:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
The world is indeed charged with God's Grandeur, and it is the calling of the men and women of the faculty of the liberal arts college, in a world "seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil," to discover and reveal "the dearest freshness deep down things."
Each day on this campus, dozens, even hundreds of voyages of discovery and revelation are launched, as men and women of learning and commitment seek those moments of magic in the classroom or laboratory.
There are three pillars upon which the American liberal arts college sits: the primacy of the close relationship between student and teacher; the importance of the residential experience;
and the commitment to an educational model, in college and beyond, which places great value on public service.
Each of these is a different way to apprehend the grandeur of the world, in which "nature is never spent."
Eckerd College celebrates each of these traditional responsibilities: the relationship here between students and faculty is clearly an article of faith; the residential experience here is both unique and fundamental and the commitment to service universal and deeply held. So it is with especial delight that the College welcomes today representatives of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation's leading advocate for the liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate level.
John Churchill has been secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honor society, since 2001. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes College, where he was awarded distinction in Philosophy upon his graduation in 1971. He earned a second baccalaureate degree at Oxford University and two master's degrees and a doctorate at Yale. With an academic focus on Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion, Dr. Churchill has taught courses ranging from social and political philosophy to biomedical ethics and the western intellectual tradition. He has published widely in academic journals, and he has held leadership roles in professional associations.
Dr. Churchill, thank you for joining us today to preside over our ceremony of installation. It is an honor to have you here for this significant event in the history of Eckerd College.
Dr. Donald R. Eastman III
February 27, 2004