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Words from Waller

February 1, 2023

Dear Willamette Community,

Today is Willamette Day, the 181st anniversary of the founding of Willamette as the first university in what became the western United States.

Every day, I come to work in a building whose cornerstone was laid nearly 160 years ago, a physical reminder of the durability of this institution. The founding generation is as far removed from us today as our great grandchildren's great grandchildren will be from us in the unimaginable year 2204.

Universities like Willamette have proven to be among our most enduring cultural institutions because of the eternal value of the work done in these academic communities. Teaching people to read, write, and think is to awaken the capacity for a lifetime of learning. Developing the skills of professional practice prepares graduates for active lives of contribution. Supporting vocational discernment and identity formation helps students find meaning in a life well and intentionally lived.

Over the years, Willamette's curriculum has evolved and changed with the needs of its students and the world. At the turn of the 20th century, Willamette closed its school of pharmacy and had seven constituent colleges: Medicine, Law, Theology, Music, Art, and Oratory, as well as the small College of Liberal Arts (with just 13 faculty).

Today, with a much larger and stronger College of Arts and Sciences at our core, we are a liberal arts university that continues to recognize the importance of professional education, with a strategic plan that calls for expanding and deepening the connections between the liberal arts and law, management, and art and design. We are moving quickly and thoughtfully towards building out new programs in the critical areas of computer, data, and information sciences. We are thinking, always, about what our students will need to contribute to the biggest challenges their generation will face in the next half century, including the effective and ethical use of big data, the strengthening of democratic institutions, and the mitigation and response to anthropocentric climate change.

What makes an institution like Willamette endure is the work of generations of faculty and staff who believe in the values that define Willamette, who look to the future rather than the past to guide the university, and, above all, who care deeply about supporting and shaping the generations of young people who will build a world we ourselves will not ever know.

I am very proud, and glad, to join you in that work.

Happy Willamette Day!

non nobis solum,

P.S. - In honor of our birthday, I invite you to enjoy some birthday cake available on both our Salem and PNCA campuses.

Willamette University

Office of the President

Salem Campus

Waller Hall, 5th Floor
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.