All Changed, Changed Utterly: Remarks

Last spring when we began to plan for this occasion, we intended from the first that this event begin our yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the College, which began its formal existence on May 24, 1926, when the articles of incorporation were signed and filed. What we had in mind then all has been altered by recent events; in Yeats’ phrase, “All changed, changed utterly.”

And it has changed. This convocation, this “calling together,” happens in a dark time for many and a confusing time for all of us. In the College’s 75th year, we face a nation and a world where something unaccountable, huge, evil, and undeniable has happened, and we each struggle to cope. At last Tuesday’s community meeting, Catherine Grier Carlson, one of our chaplains, talked about how the events in New York and Washington had shaken all of us.

Shaken, yes. Disturbed, yes. So we need to examine and define whatis important and what we should do. Scripps College decided to continue with classes, to continue with its mission to educate women, to help them develop their talents and minds and hearts and creativity so that they-so that you-will make the world better. On Tuesday I called our work sacred; I believe it is.

In this our 75th year, we are focused on our work. And as we will be addressed by a historian, let us take some time to think about those other occasions on which Scripps College and Scripps women have been shaken. Early on, the devastation of the Great Depression interrupted the education of many of the first classes of students. Later came Pearl Harbor and World War II. The College has welcomed students who have come from civil wars in their own countries, and it has weathered both foreign wars and domestic violence over Vietnam and racial injustice.

Now, we face a new kind of devastation, and we will meet it with all of the vast resources at hand-the resources of our minds, of our learning and thinking, of our creativity and imaginations, of our capacity to love and support and forgive. All of these will be needed in the days and weeks ahead.

And today we will begin to celebrate this 75th year of a college dedicated to women’s education, whose motto encourages not just clear and independent thinking, but “the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully…”

In a way none of us foresaw when we planned this convocation, we are living our history, the history of our time and our place and our situation, with peculiar intensity. Like many of you, I have been having a series of conversations, and silences, with family and friends these past few days. This kind of mindfulness-whether to your friends, to your own thoughts, to the particular wonder of a hummingbird or a blue sky-are part of our life together and our own educations. This is why we are here. I certainly am glad to be here with you; for me, there is no place on this day I would rather be than here with you doing our work together.

 

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