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Words of welcome from President Cornwell

By Peyton Poitras

Dear Rollins Students, 

I am so pleased to welcome you to the 2023-24 academic year at Rollins, carrying on a tradition of excellence and innovation in liberal education that extends well over a century. Always remember, as you move around this beautiful campus, attend class and to your studies, and go about the busyness of your lives here, that Rollins College—every member of our campus community—is here for one reason and one reason only, and that is your liberal education. 

​The term “liberal” in liberal education comes from the Latin, Artes Liberales, an education in personal liberty or freedom of thought, freedom to make up one’s own mind.  It is an education not in what to think but how to think. 

​The task of liberal education is to enable us to imagine the realities of peoples distant in time and space, to understand what humanity has in common but also the diversity of ways in which it manifests itself. Through the reading of history, literature, and poetry, through the study of the social and natural sciences, liberally educated persons develop the capacity for empathy without prejudice or borders. This is what we mean at Rollins by an education for global citizenship and responsible leadership. 

​Rollins College is a community of learners with all kinds of differences among us: political differences, racial and ethnic differences, differences in gender identity and faith traditions, socioeconomic differences. Liberal education entails learning to listen across those differences, learning to understand them, respect them, and learning to discern common grounds and probe the meaning and rationale of the differences.     

This can only work if we treat our differences, and each other, with respect, generosity, and kindness. Global citizenship and responsible leadership are grounded in an affirmation of the basic equality of humanity across the full spectrum of identities, and that all persons have equal rights and are equally deserving of respect. 

​These are the values that make our shared purpose possible. I am profoundly optimistic about the world’s future, chiefly because of the potential that you and your global peers have to lead it forward, to take all of the incredible tools of mind, technology, and industry that you have to work with and to apply them with more wisdom and insight than those who have come before. 

​Let’s get to it. 

​Fiat Lux! 

​President Cornwell    

This article was originally published in our Welcome Back print edition on Aug. 18. 

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