Monday Moments with President Bergman: May 6, 2019

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College employees each week.
Posted on May 6th, 2019 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Last Wednesday, our community had the privilege of hosting Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for our annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference.

For me, the live interview was a shining example of the power of civic dialogue and engagement and the pitfalls that await us if we fail to exercise critical thinking. Though Friedman’s opinions can be controversial and he, like all of us, has been wrong at times, his message of pluralism and hopeful but pragmatic approach to problem solving was both inspiring and eye opening.

As a young man, Friedman recognized that in order to cover the world, he needed to see it and live it if he wanted to approach issues accurately and thoughtfully. As we strive to show our students the diversity of the world so we can prepare them to act on the great challenges of our time, it was affirming that he pointed out that his reporting is informed by traveling and listening to people.

At lunch, Friedman spoke of the importance of mentoring, explaining that Gustavus alumna Mim Sponberg Kagol ’67 had a tremendous impact as his English teacher at St. Louis Park High School.

Mentorship is a powerful relational gift that we share with our students as we equip them to take on the world. At Gustavus, we encourage peace. We are not afraid of difficult conversations. We look at all sides of an issue. We seek the facts. And we act to make the world a better place.

Toward the end of his remarks, Friedman shared a quote that resonated with me. “I grew up in a real community. We built a civic culture where people of different faiths and politics came together to make a good community,” he said.

This week, think about how you can impact our students as they become the next generation of compassionate and informed leaders. I want us to continue to set a foundation where graduates will look back on their time here and say, “I grew up in a real community.” And when they take on the great challenges of our time, I want them to bring their rigorous, caring, bold Gustavus experiences with them.


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