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Don't Stop Now

Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn, "Let the love of learning rule humanity." This is the motto of Phi Kappa Phi, OCU's premier honor society, and it embraces life-long learning, a concept that has real and important meaning.

In 1953, a one-page paper was published in Nature. It started with the sentence "We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid," otherwise known as DNA. When the paper was published, everyone understood that it was important, but no one could have anticipated the scientific revolution to come once the structure of DNA was known. This spring, sixty years later, there was an article in the New York Times about precision genetic engineering that will not only treat but actually prevent cancer, a good application of science. But we also know that insurance companies could decide that your genes make you an unacceptable risk and deny you coverage, potentially a negative application of science.

It is not science that makes value judgments, it is society that does this. It is the politicians, business leaders, members of the legal profession, and the ethicists who weigh in on these discussions. They are dependent on the scientists to help them understand the background and potential future outcomes.

Today, if you are a philosopher, minister, or civic leader, you are asked to think about these questions routinely and to discuss them intelligently. There is a case just argued in the Supreme Court in March about patent exhaustion on seeds that Monsanto genetically engineered. Science gave us the seeds, but it is the courts that will decide who owns them and how and by whom they can be used. Our students will have to think broadly about fields outside of their fields throughout their lives.

A recent survey of executives indicates they believe new hires have entry-level skills, but of lack the qualities required for advancement and promotion. They site critical thinking, excellent communications skills, and creative problem solving, as important traits. All of these are hallmarks of a liberal education. At OCU, we remain committed to providing all students with a liberal education that will assist not just with finding a job after graduation, but more importantly with developing the tools necessary to enjoy a lifetime of professional success and personal enrichment. Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn.

I am a person who demonstrates the validity of what I am saying. My parents did not go to college, and my father did not graduate from high school; however, they saved money to send me to college. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a small, liberal arts college that taught me those higher order skills mentioned earlier. Furthermore, my college required us to have a minor. My biology major was enhanced by my English literature minor in that these disparate fields helped me think in completely different ways. The experience expanded my capabilities.

Prior to attending college I had the opportunity to go to Japan. My father kept saying "no" because he was fearful of a trip across the Pacific Ocean. I am from a small town in western Texas; there were 59 students in my graduating class; and cars were and still are very much a part of the culture of that part of the world. There was no question that I would have a new car for college. At some level, I understood that going to Japan would change my life, but I could not convince my father. As a last ditch effort to get him to say "yes," I told him that I would give up a car for college. That completely took him by surprise, and he really understood at that moment that I was serious. So, perhaps you have figured out the rest of the story: I went to Japan, and it did change my life. Travel, both foreign and domestic has been a lifelong passion. I am missing three states and two continents, so I have to get with the program to reach those travel milestones. The rest of the story is as follows: my dad did not buy me a new car, but he did surprise me with a used car even though I didn't ask for one.

That trip to Japan, along with my subsequent liberal arts experience made me into a lifelong learner. I encourage you to live by the motto of Phi Kappa Phi---- "Let the love of learning rule humanity." The trade-off for no car or a used car, was a good one for me. That car is long gone, but 43 years later, my memories and love of experiencing new cultures are still with me. We all need to consider when the trade-off for a car is worth a life-changing experience.

Susan C. Barber
Provost and VP for Academic Affairs