While the quality of the Mars Center is no surprise, the reality has me just a little awe-struck. This building represents many things, not the least of which is the incredible generosity of Wheaton’s alumnae/i, trustees, parents and friends. The college was able to take on this project in the midst of one of the nation’s deepest and most sustained recessions only because of loyal supporters who contributed $35 million to this effort. That would be exceptional at any time; in this economy, it is heroic.
At a time when any kind of information is just a few clicks away, critical thinking is more crucial than ever, Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine, told the Class of 2011 during Wheaton’s 176th Commencement in May.
In today’s mass media and across the spectrum of American politics, Stengel said he sees “an epidemic of certainty—people who are absolutely sure that they know they are right, and I find this a little irksome.... One of the things I am certain about is that certainty and democracy don’t go together.”
History is filled with leaders who know they are right, he said. “Who are they? Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi. Totalitarianism is the place for certainty, not democracy.”
Advising the 376 graduates to beware of ideas and theories that cannot be tested or evaluated, Stengel encouraged them to continue to value knowledge, which is more than a collection of easily accessible information. [Read more...]