Richard F. Celeste

Photo by Will Powers

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends,

“(T)he invitation of liberal learning,” said Michael Oakeshott,  is “…the invitation to disentangle oneself, for a time, from   the urgencies of the here and now and to listen to the conversation in which human beings forever seek to understand themselves.”

Oakeshott delivered his words in his 1974 Abbott Memorial Lecture, on the occasion of Colorado College’s centennial. In 2010, the invitation to disentanglement seems even more enticing and indeed critical.

The Colorado College mission, “to provide the finest liberal arts education in the country,” becomes fulfilled in myriad ways both inside and outside the classroom, by professors and non-professors alike. Within days of arrival on campus, first-year students embark on an introductory “disentanglement”   of sorts that takes them far out of their comfort zones and immerses them in service to others. (Read about the New Student Orientation program.)

Seeking to understand ourselves — and to improve ourselves — as an institution has long been a hallmark of CC. This urge propels the Mellon project described by Professors Rebecca Tucker and Tip Ragan:

Through the Mellon Report, all of us came to a deeper appreciation of how CC’s entrepreneurial spirit, especially the independence and initiative that we foster and value among ourselves, both helps and hinders achieving our institutional goals….

What makes Colorado College truly distinctive? What are our fundamental strengths? What are our most-pressing challenges? How do we move the academic program forward? How can we reinvigorate our sense of community?

These examples of disentanglement from the urgencies of the here and now are but two illustrations of the ways in which Colorado College fosters the pursuit of self-understanding.  And we are continually focused on sustaining that pursuit and ensuring its availability for all students who can benefit from it. The extraordinary support for need-based financial aid, for the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts (I.D.E.A.) program, and for the fitness center will make a significant long-term difference for our endeavor.

In an especially tangled and complicated time in human history, our liberal learning endeavor — literally the education of free persons — is more relevant than ever.

Richard F. Celeste