The President’s View – Spring 2017
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book
I hear from alumni all the time that Norwich was where they discovered who they were and what they wanted to do. A Norwich classroom was where they took that course outside of their major which gave them an entirely different perspective, or where a professor or mentor pointed them in a new direction. Outside of the classroom was where they were given a role they were not quite ready for and yet somehow found the strength inside themselves to get the job done. This is what we teach at Norwich: Students are expected to rise to the occasion, accomplish the mission, and yet expect the unexpected. This is how leaders are made.
My life is a perfect example of the truth that plans rarely work out as originally conceived. I had intended to make a career as an active-duty service officer in the Coast Guard, but the vicissitudes of life intervened, and I switched to the Coast Guard Reserve while pursuing a career in higher education. Every step of the way, I was challenged to acquire new skills and knowledge. It was not always easy, but I would not be the leader I am today if not for those challenges.
Our university founder, Captain Alden Partridge, is a prime example of someone who refused to let setbacks prevent him from pursuing his dreams. Forced to leave West Point, he forged a new path in America that no one had taken before and, as a result, came up with a blueprint for producing citizen-soldiers which has withstood the test of time. Partridge had the courage and the conviction to challenge himself and the status quo, and by so doing, achieved a distinction viewed by many as unparalleled in the sphere of higher education.
Leaders are not born, they are formed over a lifetime—ever emerging, ever adapting to new situations, new responsibilities, and new positions that life requires of them. It is for this reason that Norwich places such a strong emphasis on educating the whole person—mind, body, and character—because individuals need to be developed in all areas before they can take on the responsibility of leading others.
This issue of the Record is all about the intersection of disciplines. In it you will learn about the collaboration between individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as the five students who formed our P2P team that recently bested 43 other teams to place first in a national competition. You will also read the stories of alumni and faculty whose paths in life took unexpected turns, forcing them out of their comfort zones while introducing them to opportunities they had never imagined. Each of us would do well to follow their examples: When circumstances force a change in your plans, take risks, try new things, make mistakes—even if it means failing—and try again. None of us can predict the future, but as Steve Jobs said, “Believe that things will work out … follow your intuition and curiosity … trust your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path … You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Richard W. Schneider
RADM, USCGR (Ret.)