Mead 207 | Message from the President

If you’re not here in the Forest day in and day out, it can be all too easy to perceive undergraduates as an indistinct mass, here for a relatively short time and defined only by a set of canned generational traits and attitudes popularized by the media. We have a remedy for that, and it’s called “I Am Drew,” this issue’s cover story introducing 10 of our sharpest students.

Take Laquan Austion, a senior political science major and avowed conservative. While he’s passionate about his views, he knows how to disagree civilly. That’s a quality we need more of in our society—it’s a cure for talk radio and all the sound­bite extremisms and the current spate of divisiveness that’s driving us apart. We need people with strong political views who nonetheless are able to talk to each other and hear what the other is saying, and Laquan exemplifies that. Which reminds me: I owe him the keys to my Mustang—I promised him a drive.

He’s just one of our nearly 1,700 students who’ve brought with them to Drew considerable smarts and talents, and by the time they graduate, I hope they will have only enhanced them by being part of our community. But 10 years from now, or 20 or even 30, I’d like to ask them—and all of our students—what from their Drew experience is most central to their lives. Many years ago at another university, I heard a graduation address by the film director Larry Kasdan. You may recall his most popular film, The Big Chill, which was about a college-reunion weekend. Not surprisingly, Kasdan told the students that perhaps the most important experience they had in college was not a particular course or teacher but, in fact, each other. Close friends, he said, lifelong friends, may be the greatest benefit of a college education. Even if they live far away, Kasdan said, if they’re getting married, if they need you for any reason, however inconvenient it might be for you, go!

Indeed, my best friend was my RA 40 years ago. He’s still him, I’m still me, we agree on very little and we still laugh more with each other than with anyone else. When I think about college, I see Bill.

Those readers who are alums probably have made a similar friendship at Drew. I have a suggestion: Before you read the rest of Drew Magazine, pick up the phone, however long it’s been, and call that friend right now.

Robert Weisbuch

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