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There is no future that looks like the past

by Melinda Lantz | Apr 08, 2019

Posted April 8 - We live in a “both/and” world. We have opportunities and face challenges. We uncover possibilities and respond to problems. We anticipate and cope with rapid change. Both/and. Promise and peril.

This is certainly true for Manchester in a time of rapid change in higher education. Some describe it as white water and most believe that it will be the new reality for us. Perpetual white water.

For Manchester, the both/and is to find new expressions of our unchanging mission. Stay true to who we are while finding new ways to express our foundational values. While the words used to articulate our mission have changed over the years, it is, at its core, to graduate persons equipped to live transformative lives and improve the human condition.

Manchester has always found ways to breathe life into our mission with new programs. Peace Studies after World War II, Environmental Studies in 1971 on the heels of the first Earth Day and, just a few years ago, pharmacogenomics on the forefront of precision medicine are a few examples. We’ve also stopped doing some things over the years. We no longer teach home economics and bookkeeping, for example, and while we teach German, we no longer offer a German major.

There is no future that looks like the past. But we wouldn’t want to stay fixed in one place even if we could. If we had locked in 20 years ago, we would still be treating our LGBTQ students and colleagues as second-class members of our campus community (I was here when Manchester students held their first Gay Prom and when we began offering benefits to same sex partners).

 If we had locked in 50 years ago, we would still be encouraging our female students to enroll in a limited set of “appropriate” majors like education, bookkeeping and home economics. And, despite our progress on these issues, we still have work to do. We can’t afford to stand pat. We continue to lead, to change, to adapt.

The future for Manchester is both/and. Both exciting and anxiety-producing. Both opportunity-filled and perilous. And we are up to the challenges – we always have been.