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My Old School: A Message of Hope From Leon Botstein

By gabe | Gabe's Declaration of Principles November 5, 2008 at 8:27AM

My Old School: A Message of Hope From Leon Botstein
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Many folks have said today they are proud to be American. My pride in the U.S. has never wavered--though my patience has been tested severely over the past few years.


My Old School

What I am proud of is the fact that I'm an Alum of Bard College...and here's why:

Bard President Leon Botstein sent the following message today to all faculty and staff at Bard, and asked that the Alumni/ae Office share it with you as well:

To the Bard College Community:

I want to thank all the members of the Bard community, particularly on the Annandale campus but also those on all our campuses and in all our programs, who made possible such an extensive participation by students, faculty, and staff in this year's presidential election. I particularly want to thank the student leadership, the Dean of Students office, and Jonathan Becker for their work.

I would be less than candid if I did not also express my enormous pride in the outcome. I think it is not an exaggeration to say that for all Americans, including myself, an immigrant to this country as a child, this is an eloquent and moving vindication of America's promise and potential. From the point of view of those of us committed to education and excellence, and to reconciling the democratic necessity of access to education with the task of ensuring that the education we provide to all is of the highest quality, this day is truly remarkable.

Achieving a high degree of excellence through hard work and ambition is a path available to all. When discipline and ambition are integrated with idealism—whether in the sciences or the arts—and a sense of civic duty, we have the essential components for a free society and for progress. The danger inherent in contemporary mass democracy has always been the potential for manipulation through mediocrity, conformism, intolerance, and an inflexible populism that contains resentment of learning and educational excellence.

The American people have rejected this path. I believe it is a non-partisan statement to assert that this election is not only a tribute to American ideals but also to the importance and centrality of education, and the role that institutions of education which aspire to the highest ideals and standards can play. The victors in the 2008 election are the potential power of knowledge and inquiry, of intellectual curiosity and courage, and finally, the virtues of civility, tolerance, and humility that mark the highest achievements in scholarship, teaching, research, performance, the making of art, and public service.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for participating in the political process and for helping Bard College play its role as a place where culture, critical inquiry, and service to education thrive on behalf of the common good.

Leon Botstein

This, and of course the fact that he went face to face with Colbert: