On behalf of the faculty, we are delighted to celebrate this gift of the Salisbury Center, and its gift giver, and to dedicate this gloriously restored building. Charles Salisbury has provided inspired leadership and vision in breathing new life and new uses into Trinity Hall. How grand this old building has become because of Charlie’s generous gift to his alma mater. This grand old building invites the next generations of students to engage in off campus study, to perform public service, and to achieve a vocation worthy of their liberal arts education.
The Salisbury Center has already asserted itself as a center of excellence. The three offices of our Colleges which are represented within its walls express the best of what Charlie Salisbury represents: Each must be entrepreneurial, beckoning students to engage in higher purposes, to cross unfamiliar boundaries, and to imagine a life and a calling. Each office asks students to externalize that which has been inward, to recognize that ideas have consequences, and to make those ideas, found first in the pages of books, into lives worth living. I would characterize Charlie’s vision and leadership in the same terms – he has guided our Colleges to imagine the best in ourselves and to achieve our imaginings. Who could have imagined old Trinity looking so lovely, embracing a new energy, keen in its purposes? Charlie Salisbury could, and the Salisbury Center is the splendid result, improving the landscape of our campus.
The Salisbury Center houses our extraordinary Center for Global Education. The special role of global education for undergraduate students must be to reveal the subtlety of international political, economic, and cultural relationships, to teach students to seek dialogue, and especially to be careful listeners and observers. Placing the student inside another culture, as participants rather than tourists, tempers the impulse to extract and consume by building empathetic links. Establishing this feeling intellect can provide resistance to the hazards that can befall even the most studied traveler. These dangers include false positives and false negatives. For example, a false negative is imagining the community of the other and imposing the imagined perfection of ourselves. A false positive is blind patriotism. A false negative is thinking of other cultures as “primitive.” A false positive is a too confident sense of our own certainties. Together, as faculty, administrators, and students, we chart the course to other societies and their cultures in search of understanding.
A voyager, Michel de Certeau asserts, “voyages are interdisciplinary laboratories" where diverse disciplines "come into play and interact.” The encounter with the other may serve to reveal our own otherness, even to ourselves. Such travel experiences have the possibility of “breaking frame” so that we might think in creative and receptive ways, and truly arrive at the doorsteps of global competence, and global citizenship.
The Salisbury Center embraces the Public Service Office. It is here, too, that students learn the value of service as they participate in the citizenship of community. Robert Coles teaches us that acts of service, combined with a rich intellectual discourse, can lead to a life of growth and transformation, and of meaning and joy that money can not buy. In this regard, service is not a special extra, an act of selfless altruism, but an affirmation of a whole life, one that integrates self and other, individual and community in a process of discovery and renewal. In so many ways, faculty, administrators, and students, have discovered that service is a lynchpin of community making, within the Colleges, and with our neighbors. The Salisbury Center affirms our commitment to public service, leading its exodus from the musty basement of Smith Hall to the promised land of Main Street.
The Salisbury Center is the new home of our Career Services office, sometimes the reluctant last station on our students travels at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. I happen to think that career services offer our student enchantments, and that enchantment is one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education. It is career services that will open the door to students to create an enchanted life, and an enchanted world. By definition, to enchant is to sing, to find melodies and harmonies, to be moved deeply. To be enchanted, in my mind, is to be enveloped in a web of meaning, and to make a life, and find a life that is gratifying. The delightful people in Career Services are, with the faculty, shepherds guiding our students to meaningful work, callings that reflect the life of the mind and heart. Our students will bring a feeling intellect to their work, to their communities, and to their families. The Salisbury Center now glows with students’ hopes and dreams and programs that enable their realization.
This is precisely what the Salisbury Center and Charlie embody: Strong mindedness, global citizenship and public service, a sense of enchantment, the joyous affirmation of a whole life, and a deep sense of discovery and renewal. Thank you, Charlie Salisbury, for your on-going contributions to these Colleges, and for the gift of the Salisbury Center.
Salisbury Center at Trinity Hall Dedication
April 24, 2004