The Colgate Scene
January 2004

A message from the president
A model for interdisciplinary studies



The Upstate Institute will build on the success of such programs as the Oneida Indian Nation Summer Workshop in Archaeology led by Associate Professor of Anthropology Jordan Kerber, said President Rebecca Chopp. [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Just prior to the end of the fall semester we announced the formation of Upstate Institute, a collaborative effort that will bring together the many resources at Colgate -- human and otherwise -- that relate to our region.

The Upstate Institute (see Around the college) is a model for the type of advanced interdisciplinary institute that is foretold in the new strategic plan for the university. We expect the institutes to be a medium for extending the boundaries of knowledge, supporting faculty scholarship, expanding Colgate's reputation, and creating new opportunities for students to work at the frontier of knowledge. The university's Center for Ethics and World Societies has been another successful example of this approach for several years. Interdisciplinary institutes leverage Colgate's resources.

The Upstate Institute exemplifies Colgate's wonderful sense of community and will provide our students with opportunities to learn important values and skills while engaging in community building. That sense of community was a strong attraction to me when I came to visit as part of the presidential search.

Upstate New York faces challenges, to be sure, but it is also an area rich in history, tradition, and resources. For years, Colgate faculty and staff members have engaged the region in their research and scholarship. They have set novels here, studied the region's history and economy and geology, contributed to its art and music, and sought to understand what motivates its people and drives its civic structures. At the same time, our faculty, staff, and students have given their time to the region as volunteers and involved citizens contributing to the quality of life in their hometown.

Of course, this all contributes to the education of successful citizens for tomorrow's world communities. Through programs such as the Upstate Institute, off-campus study groups, and the wealth of opportunities for advanced interdisciplinary studies at Colgate, our students will learn to imagine issues from many perspectives and bridge disparate points of view. Through the institute and other programs that will develop from the strategic plan, Colgate aspires to build on its tradition of participation to make undergraduate life a model for learning the skills of citizenship in our shrinking world. As our study groups introduce students to cultures around the world (see Stepping stones), we will experience a renaissance of community in our own region that will provide even more opportunities for students to learn from the experience of interacting with others.

In their careers, in their enjoyment of the arts, in their neighborhoods, the future success of our students will be determined by their ability to understand and embrace the viewpoints of people whose backgrounds are different from their own. Future Colgate students will define diversity not as tolerating difference, or even as justice, but as an opportunity to expand their understanding and knowledge -- their world view -- for the good of all. The Upstate Institute promises to take us another step in that direction.

The institute is but one project in the new strategic plan that will be communicated to you in the next several months. The plan, which has been given additional momentum thanks to Dan Benton's munificent commitment of $10 million builds upon our traditions of excellence, spirit of aspiration, and community to make Colgate a leading liberal arts university in the 21st century.

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