The Hillsdale I Know

Robert Blackstock
Hillsdale College

Robert BlackstockRobert W. Blackstock is the Acting President and CEO, Hillsdale College.

The following is adapted from Mr. Snow's speech at a Hillsdale College seminar on October 15, 2001, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I was 24 years old at the time of my introduction to Hillsdale. Not only did my students teach me a great deal about the integrity of the classroom and the fullness of what it means to be a teacher, but also the many alumni and benefactors whom I consider friends talked to me about the inspiration they drew from the school’s larger message. Trust and honor based on mutual agreement direct all of us in our work on Hillsdale’s behalf. Hillsdale is comprised of 450 employees, 1,150 students, and 930,000 Imprimis subscribers. I have been humbled and made grateful as I have encountered these ever-increasing blessings in my life and the life of the College.

Friends of Hillsdale make their journey, some literally and some figuratively, to campus and the ideals the school represents on a variety of paths. Many of you have come to know us through referrals from other Imprimis readers. Others have met one of our graduates, while many meet faculty or staff through admissions or our policy forums. Students and Hillsdale graduates, of course, know us most fully through the demands of studies and the joys of campus life. By and large, the school’s 156 years of independence bind us all in this common endeavor, an endeavor of friendships formed around common ideas.

That endeavor is why I came to Hillsdale some 23 years ago and why Jackie, my wife of 20 years, and I have chosen to build our lives here. The College represented a vision for the future that resonated with what I believed was my own mission in life as a husband, father, and professor. I had the help of many who were senior to me in time and tenure. I was given the privilege of watching my students grasp and test the theory and ideals of law and justice. I had the chance to stand in front of groups of young people and state unabashedly that law and justice are inseparable from moral integrity.

Whenever time permitted, I read about the College’s history, its mission, and the succession of courageous leaders who maintained its vision. An innovative school since its founding in 1844, Hillsdale offered a demanding liberal arts course of study to any student who qualified academically. The aims are as straightforward now as they were then. In large measure, that is why we are awarding nearly $9 million in scholarships and loans to our students this year. Our doors are open to any who exhibit the will, the courage and the talent to benefit from a Hillsdale education. The school’s heritage, based upon the Biblical and Western traditions, represents a solid foundation for its ongoing educational mission. I still marvel at the way the College redrafted its core curriculum in the 1990s without one nod to political correctness or moral relativism. With steady confidence and congenial cooperation, my colleagues rose to the occasion out of respect for their academic disciplines, their students, and the College’s unifying purpose: to prepare moral, thinking individuals worthy of the freedoms and responsibilities that our civilization affords.

Throughout the school’s history, one can find galvanizing moments that threatened its future. From the Civil War to the World Wars to serious financial limitations in the 1950s to threats from bureaucratic intrusion in the 1960s and 1970s, Hillsdale’s right to self-governance has never gone unchallenged. You may know the story as well as I do. Through a progression of presidents and trustees, faculty and alumni, our academic heritage has been the responsibility of faculty members like those whose edited essay reprints follow this letter.

I have grown and matured with the College these past 23 years, as have the many others who have been privileged to live and labor with this wonderful community. As we go about our weekly, daily, and hourly work, we do so believing that life is built on trust and faith. Jackie and I now have our three children, our busy home, our country church, and friends in all parts of the country.

I welcome your goodwill as well as your critical assessments. The obstacles currently before everyone associated with the College are challenging. I also ask for your prayers and guidance. In return, we remain grateful for your unwavering regard for Hillsdale College.