40 Years of Excellence: Daring to Dream and Do

Last fall‚ in a report called “Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place‚” the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) ranked Kennesaw State University third in the nation in its commitment to community engagement. The report defines “stewards of place” as those institutions that have created far−reaching‚ mutually beneficial relationships with the communities they serve.

Georgia (Jan 1, 2003) — Last fall‚ in a report called “Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place‚” the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) ranked Kennesaw State University third in the nation in its commitment to community engagement. The report defines “stewards of place” as those institutions that have created far−reaching‚ mutually beneficial relationships with the communities they serve.

Good stewardship‚ at heart‚ is a matter of dreaming and doing — recognizing the potential of an institution‚ a place‚ a community‚ and setting about the purposeful work of making it a reality. Famed hockey player Wayne Gretzky puts this idea in slightly more practical terms: “You skate to where the puck will be.” I love the subtext of Gretzky’s statement — the notion that success is a naturally evolving process‚ a perfect marriage of mind and matter‚ as the skater follows his expert intuition and moves confidently toward the future.

It was this kind of visionary leadership that inspired the founders of Kennesaw Junior College almost exactly 40 years ago. There was a practical need for the college‚ yes‚ but there must also have been a palpable sense of excitement for the future embodied in those four small buildings in the middle of a Cobb County pasture. Throughout this academic year‚ we at KSU will celebrate that original vision for KJC with a campaign called “40 Years of Excellence: Daring to Dream and Do.”

Of course‚ we will be celebrating much more than our past over the coming months. Like those first founders‚ we will be concentrating primarily on our future‚ and the good stewardship required to build on our short but storied history. Our momentum is strong as we move toward that future. Think‚ for instance‚ about the last five year−long campaigns that have brought us to our present level of significance.

The Year of Honoring Service. Collaboration 2000. Kennesaw State: The Engaged University. From Success to Significance. The Courage to Lead for the Common Good. Taken together‚ these themes hint at the compelling story of how we have become more deeply absorbed in the larger purposes of civic engagement‚ making it a central part of our overall mission to become a true prototype of the “people’s college‚” to use the words of AASCU president Deno Curris.

This is not empty rhetoric. Indeed‚ our continued emphasis on service‚ civic engagement and principle−centered leadership is being recognized in the most significant ways. In addition to the AASCU ranking‚ we have recently become the grateful beneficiaries of two substantial gifts‚ both related to our prominence as good stewards of the community: a donation of $1 million by the RTM Foundation to our Institute for Leadership‚ Ethics & Character and a pledge upward of $3 million from WellStar Health System to our College of Health and Human Services.

In celebrating “40 Years of Excellence” over the coming months‚ we might consider the following question: When the story of Kennesaw State University’s growth at the beginning of the 21st century is told — perhaps in a celebration of “80 Years of Excellence” in 2043 — what will they say about our vision for the future? If they say we showed the same spirit as the original founders of Kennesaw Junior College‚ that we exhibited an impressive courage to lead for our students‚ our campus and the local and global communities — if they say‚ in sum‚ that we truly did serve as careful “stewards of place‚” then surely we will have made good on the promise contained in this year’s theme. We will have succeeded by “Daring to Dream and Do.”




 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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