4-minute Community Speech

by  Dennis Gibbons


The speech I gave at the Radiologic Technology Program’s Pinning Ceremony on May 27, 2016 was adapted entirely from: Campus life: in search of community.

This book proposes that both academic and civic standards be clarified and that the enduring values that undergird a community of learning be precisely defined. Six principles are presented that provide a formula for day-to-day decision making on the campus and define the kind of community every college and university should strive to be:
(1) A purposeful community,
(2) An open community,
(3) A just community,
(4) A disciplined community,
(5) A caring community, and
(6) A celebrative community.
Appendices present detailed results of the 1989 national survey by the Carnegie Foundation that formed the basis for this report. The survey identified campus life issues of concern, as perceived by 382 responding institutions in the National Survey of College and University Presidents and 355 responding institutions in the 1989 National Survey of Chief Student Affairs Officers by the American Council on Education and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The survey also analyzed views on improving campus life, actions likely to improve campus life, and changes over 5 years in specific problem areas. Reference notes accompany each chapter.


The 6 Aspects of Hostos Community College

We all remember the story of “The Little Engine That Could” from our childhood; well, Hostos is the little college that does.  Much of its success is from its unique sense of community.

First, Hostos is an educationally purposeful community, a place where faculty and students share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus and at the clinical education centers.

I list the principle of educational purposefulness first because it is fundamental to all others.  At Hostos, teaching and learning are the central functions, and if faculty and students do not join in a common intellectual quest, if they do not take the educational mission of the institution seriously, then all talk about strengthening community is simply a diversion.

Second, Hostos is an open community, a place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed.

The educational mission of higher learning is carried on through reasoned discourse.  The free expression of ideas at Hostos is essential, and integrity in the use of symbols, both written and oral, must be continuously affirmed if both scholarship and civility are to flourish.  The quality of Hostos, therefore, must be measured by the quality of communication on campus and at the clinical education centers.

Third, Hostos is a just community, a place where the sacredness of each person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued.

Higher learning builds community out of the rich resources of its members.  It rejects prejudicial judgments, celebrates diversity, and seeks to serve the full range of citizens in our society effectively.  In strengthening campus life, Hostos commits itself to building a just community, one that is both equitable and fair.

Fourth, Hostos is a disciplined community, a place where individuals accept their obligations to the group and where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.

A community of learning, at its best, is guided by standards of student conduct that define acceptable behavior and integrate the academic and nonacademic dimensions of campus life.

Fifth, Hostos is a caring community, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.

While colleges should be purposeful, and just, and disciplined – as well as open – the unique characteristic that makes these objectives work, the glue that holds it all together, is the way people relate to one another.  As impossible as the goal may seem to be, Hostos is a place where every individual feels affirmed and where every activity of the community is humane.  Caring is the key.

Sixth, Hostos is a celebrative community, one in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared.

Hostos sustains a keen sense of its own heritage and traditions.  Rites, ceremonies, and celebrations unite the campus and give students a sense of belonging to something worthwhile and enduring.  Meaningfully designed celebrations, such as this pinning ceremony, sustain the vitality of the campus.  The challenge is to instill all rituals and ceremonies with real significance – and fun as well.

Finally, these celebrations are critical, because hundreds of undergraduates are new to Hostos each fall, and without traditions, continuity is lost.


Campus life: in search of community
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; with a foreword by Ernest L. Boyer, (Special Report) 1990, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
ISBN: 0-931050-38-3


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