Wait, what happened to January?!
Friends, I hope the winter break served you well with time for rest, relaxation, and reflection.
We welcomed students back on January 11 for the start of the spring semester. Although certainly chilly across campus, we have only seen one significant snow in Wilmington—which necessitated a "snow day" on January 19. I heard chatter of planned snowball fights and saw several small campus snowmen on Instagram. Staff in the Admissions office were even planning a sled-riding adventure. What fun! I snapped a few "first snow" photos from campus to share, as well.
Community MLK Day Program Jan. 18
The College hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance program on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m., in the Heiland Theatre of the Boyd Cultural Arts Center.
This year's program, themed “Love Thy NeighborHOOD,” included guest speakers, reflections, music and dance. Two students from Zimbabwe were featured in the program—sophomore Mathew Maramasaka, who played the drums, and freshman Olive Iragena, who offered a dance program. The Bible Missionary Baptist Church Praise Team shared their inspiring musical talents. Speakers included Campus Minister Nancy McCormick; Sigrid Solomon, vice president for student affairs and dean of students; Keely Smith and Haley Fulton, seniors at the College; Nick Hoover, director of housing; and Chip Murdock, senior director of diversity and campus activities, who also announced this year's recipients of the Kincaid Family Diversity Scholarship. Dr. Ursula McTaggart, professor of English, presented the Nedra Gordon Scholarship. Rayshawn Eastman, associate vice president of student engagement, introduced “The Call,” which featured drummers and the WC Legacy Dance Troupe.
I also shared the following message about agape love, reflective of the "Love Thy NeighborHOOD" theme:
LOVE AS BLANKETS AND BUOYS
As we gather here today to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we not only commemorate a great leader but also embrace the values he championed - values that resonate deeply with our Quaker heritage at Wilmington College.
Today, in particular, we are reminded of the importance of leaning on and loving on each other.
We are reminded how, as good neighbors, we can serve both as a blanket, a security blanket if you will, covering others with love and comfort, and as a buoy, supporting and lifting their hearts, spirits, and minds.
Dr. King’s vision of a 'beloved community' is a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love for our fellow humankind. His call to “love thy neighbor” is not just a moral imperative but truly a practical guide to building the kind of community for which we aspire.
In our journey through both academic and life challenges, the love and strength we derive from such a community is immeasurable—that is the focus of these words I share with you today.
First an exercise: Let us close our eyes. I want you to imagine our community as a patchwork quilt, stitched together with threads of individual experiences, beliefs, and aspirations. Each of us, in our unique way, contributes to the strength and resilience of this tapestry. In times of hardship, it is this tightly-knit community that serves as our support, our guiding light, our security blanket. We are joined on all sides by others both similar to and different than us. The edges of our tapestry, exposed and outstretched, invite others to join. Reinforced, it can hold the weight of the world. The colors of our blanket, bold and magnificent. Our tapestry is a work in progress, never “finished.” That is one of the most beautiful things about it.
Ok, now open your eyes.
Like the beautiful quilt you imagined is never finished, we are never finished with our important work to “love thy neighbor.” In academia, there is always someone new, a new neighbor, who walks through that door—it’s one of my favorite moving parts of the college experience. Our beloved community perpetually evolves and grows—which means love always grows. What an incredible notion. What a beautiful blanket.
Now for the buoy.
The world and work around us can be utterly intimidating—every day is an impromptu risk. We can’t predict how the day will evolve, whether we will be successful in our endeavors, whether we will be accepted by others, whether we will feel pride in the day’s work. Some days are daunting. Sometimes the weight of it all is too much and overwhelm sets in.
A community, as Dr. King envisioned it, can lift you up. A community can carry you into tomorrow. A community can keep your spirit afloat like a buoy.
As he said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
This is the work of what he called “The highest good”—love.
Though we may feel small in this giant world, acts of love and support cannot be sized. There is no small love. Love is boundless. It spreads. Love begets love. Love conquers even war.
And like a buoy, love uplifts.
In Chapter 3 of The Radical King, Dr. King explains his philosophical evolution toward nonviolence and focuses significant attention on three dimensions of love. Agape love, as he describes, is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. It is different than romantic or reciprocal love in that it is, as he notes, “purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is the love of God operating in the human heart.”
He continues, “Agape is not a weak, passive love. It is love in action. Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community. It is insistence on community even when one seeks to break it... Agape is a willingness to go to any length to restore community. It doesn’t stop at the first mile, but it goes the second mile to restore community. It is a willingness to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven to restore community.”
So to close, as we honor the legacy of Dr. King, let us rekindle our commitment to the principles of agape love. Let our beloved Wilmington College community be a model of what can be achieved in this giant, complex, and contentious world when we pursue a greater good, a greater love.
Dr. King’s profound words give us a call to action: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” My friends at Wilmington College, what are we doing for each other? What are we doing for the communities we serve?
As we reflect on these questions, let us commit to being blankets and buoys for one another, to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and heard, supported and uplifted.
As you know, because I am certain it has happened to you as it has to me, just one kind gesture, one hello, one moment of feeling heard, one cheer, one call, one compliment, one “I’m sorry,” one “how can I help,” one moment of “loving thy neighborhood” can actually change the trajectory of of someone’s life by either comforting them or lifting them up.
As Dr. King said,
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
Friends, go in love. Embrace agape. Be blankets and buoys.
WC's Occupational Therapy Master's Degree Program Receives Full Accreditation
The Wilmington College Occupational Therapy Master’s degree program has been granted full accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.
In a formal communication received on December 12, 2023:
At its meeting on December 1-3, 2023, ACOTE reviewed the Report of On-Site Evaluation (ROSE) regarding the Master's of Science Program in Occupational Therapy at Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio. All Standards were found to be compliant and ACOTE voted to grant a status of Accreditation for a period of 7 years.
The program's Interim Report will be due in April 2027 and the next on-site evaluation will be scheduled within academic year 2030/2031.
A heartfelt congratulations to the entire MSOT team for their hard work and dedication.
All-Campus Visioning Sessions Come to Close
The Wilmington College campus community recently completed its fifth and final all-campus visioning session, which introduced the query: How can Wilmington College become internationally recognized as a leader in hands-on, experiential education, specifically with respect to agricultural education?
The sessions consisted of facilitated hour-long workshops that each presented one of five vision queries. The queries were derived from a retreat conducted in July of 2023 by the Board of Trustees. Following each workshop, a digital survey was also administered to the campus community in order to gather additional feedback.
Comprehensive data from the workshops and surveys will be shared with the campus community and used in future strategic planning processes.
Wilmington College's Prison Program Receives HLC Approval
A Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Change Panel has reviewed three Pell-Eligible Prison Education Program substantive change requests from Wilmington College:
Request for approval to offer the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Warren Correctional Institution
Request for approval to offer the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Lebanon Correctional Institution
Request for approval to open an additional location: Dayton Correctional Institution
The HLC Change Panel has recommended approval for all three requests.
Next steps: The Institutional Actions Council (IAC), an HLC decision-making body, will act on these recommendations at an upcoming meeting. Meeting dates are posted on the HLC website at https://www.hlcommission.org/calendar. The recommendation is not final until the institution receives an action letter following IAC’s decision.
Congratulations to the Prison Program team for leading these change processes and preparing for the start of our academic program, anticipated for May 2024.
New Articulation Agreements Announced
Wilmington College signed two new Articulation Agreements in November: 1) with Northwest State Community College in the area of Ag Education; and 2) with Hocking College in the area of Equine Business Management.
Thank you to Russ Kincaid, Daren Wright, and Chad McKay for working with our partner institutions to make these opportunities possible.
So many joys to share on this beautiful campus of ours.
In peace and gratitude,