January 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of my employment at FSU. (To paraphrase Woody Allen, in a blink of an eye one-third of my life has already passed me by!)
In January 1981, I arrived here as a non-tenure-track instructor and now have the privilege of serving as the chief academic officer. Few people are so fortunate!
I have often been asked why I have stayed so long. Of course, there are many reasons, but the primary one is the social justice mission of the university. The original impetus for the founding of the school that eventually became FSU was to provide qualified teachers for the children of former slaves. The seven founders correctly recognized that political freedom is a hollow achievement without the skills and knowledge necessary to participate meaningfully in the political, social, and economic life of the nation. FSU’s positive impact on the lives of its graduates and, in turn, their impact on this region and beyond is a legacy we can all claim with great pride.
Today, as more career pathways require a university degree, many adults are at risk of being left behind. And these students at risk, historically and even today, are highly represented among the students we serve: African-American, Hispanic, Native-American, individuals from low-income families, and adult learners. U.S. higher education generally does a great job for affluent and white students, but educational opportunity decreases significantly for those who are poor and non-white.
This is wrong! It is wrong for conditions of birth — such as socio-economic status, race, and ethnicity – to shape educational opportunity as significantly as it does in the U.S.
Extending high quality higher educational opportunity to all is part of our DNA at FSU. I am proud of our legacy and proud to be a Bronco!