Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Importance of Institutional History

Norlin Library - West Entrance
University of Colorado, Boulder

Eighty years ago, University of Colorado President George Norlin shared with that year's graduating class that his words were going to be etched in stone above the as-yet-to-be-completed library on the Boulder campus that bears his names.  They were, as he explained to the Class of '35, designed to serve as a charge to them - and to all CU students who would follow them - that a school's greatest asset - irrespective of the beauty of its campus - is its people.  Being a modest and forthright man, President Norlin acknowledged that he had crafted his charge from the words of Roman author Marcus Tullius Cicero, who had written: 

Nescire autem antequam natus sis acciderit,
id est semper esse puerum

which translated from Latin into English means, "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child." 

This afternoon, at or about 4:00 PM, the high school Alma mater of the back half of the Kenny sextet, which doubled as Mom's employer for close to a decade and a half as well as the institution to which Dad devoted the final dozen or so years of his life, shall host its Annual Alumni Reception/Awards Ceremony.  A half- dozen individuals shall be honored.  Among them are five graduates of the school whose graduation dates span fifty-five years:

Henry Parker '44 (Distinguished Alumnus)
Whitney Stevens '44 (Distinguished Alumnus)
Jay Hoffacker '69 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)
Chuck Mayers '74 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)
Alice Cesareo Lonergan '99 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)

The sixth honoree is Robert Gould.  Mr. Gould is retiring this year after devoted the past forty-two years of his life to teaching, first, at Wardlaw, and, thereafter, at Wardlaw-Hartridge.   How does one measure the depths of his devotion?  Mileage might be an effective measuring stick.  I had Mr. Gould for 8th grade science in 1980-81.  As of that time, he was already living in Sussex County, New Jersey.  He has therefore, at least, the past thirty-five years traveling eighty-plus miles round-trip every day to teach and to coach.  Four hundred-plus miles a week.  

Every October, this event serves to remind me of the wisdom of Cicero and the wisdom of George Norlin.  It is the people, not the things, which are an institution's greatest assets.  


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