The Spirit of Higher Education Should be Equality

Equality (1)

Once a month I speak with a spiritual director. Today he was rather insistent that I am where I am supposed to be and am her for a reason. This came after a discussion of a need to see the mission as greater than any one individual and the need for a spirit of unity within any organization.

I am opposed to class systems that separate people. The separation in our culture is largely based on wealth, occupation, social network, and education status. While wealth in the United States is either earned or inherited and social networks are frequently associated with birth into a community, education should be available to all.  If one is so fortunate to be born with the necessary intelligence to pursue a university education, the person should not be treated unequally in any educational institution. We know that private schools sometimes offer preferential treatment for those who have parents that are alumni or sufficient wealth to influence the admissions process. This should never be the case in public institutions. It is the role of a public institution to eliminate even the perception of bias. Once enrolled it is the responsibility of the professors and leadership – legal, ethical, and moral – to ensure that system is equitable.

Allowing inequality in education, and establishing a system that rewards the privileged increases the likelihood that class bias is carried into our general society and perpetuated by graduates who had it reinforced in school.

Universities should be doing all possible to educate the whole person. Let us endeavor to educate students in a manner that demonstrates that God-given gifts do no justify preferential treatment.  By our actions, we should model our espoused values and implement policies and practices that make us stronger as a whole by respecting the individual and honoring equality.

Perhaps we lost our way when we forgot that the heart of leadership lies in the hearts of leaders. We fooled ourselves, thinking that sheer bravado or sophisticated analytic techniques could respond to our deepest concerns. We lost touch with our most precious gift-our spirit. To recapture spirit, we need to relearn how to lead with soul. How to breathe new zest and buoyancy into life. How to reinvigorate the family as a sanctuary where people can grow, develop, and find love. How to reinfuse the workplace with vigor and elan. Leading with soul returns us to ancient spiritual basics reclaiming the enduring human capacity that gives our lives passion and purpose [Bolman and Deal, 1995, p. 21 in Arthur W. Chickering;Jon C. Dalton;Liesa Stamm. Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education (pp. 35-36). Kindle Edition].

Another Great Day for Equality

Today is a great day for anyone who dreams of equality.  We celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday and the second inauguration of our first African American President.  The day I was born my parents could not have imagined a day that an African American would be president, or that the minority leader would be female, or the Supreme Court Justice swearing in the Vice President would be a Hispanic female, or that the President would speak openly about equality for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

As I listened I could not help but imagine the beauty that will exist in 50 more years.  We will be a nation where women make as much as men for the same work.  We will be a nation that welcomes immigrants and gives all those who come here to work a path to citizenship.  We will be a nation that treats lesbians, gays, and transgendered with dignity and all the rights of everyone else.  We will be a nation that doesn’t abort our babies.  We will be nation that doesn’t shoot our children.  We will be a more perfect nation.

It is a great day to be a citizen of the United States.