As I stood giving my convocation address to the most recent entering class of the College of Arts and Sciences, I was struck by the lasting importance of the noble cause we share at the University of Redlands. In front of me were more than 800 new first-year and transfer students, who would be forever changed by their experiences at the U of R—through meaningful engagement with their professors, classmates, and opportunities inside and outside the classroom.
By choosing the University of Redlands, these students opted to be part of a community committed to the life of the mind as well as to the enrichment of their spirits, emotions, and social and physical well-being. They chose a student-centered, caring place known for its welcoming nature, where they can find their best selves. They selected a university that ventures to do so many things so well—challenge students to test themselves and support them along the journey; celebrate personal and intellectual diversity; and foster exploration through not only coursework, but also student government, study abroad, community service, athletics, clubs, fraternities and sororities, outdoor programs, hands-on research opportunities, and so much more.
But perhaps you’ve heard all this before and have become numb to it!? Yet, more than anything else, the commitment to this personalized experience infuses every facet of the University, through undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, across a breadth of disciplines from business to education to the arts and humanities, and within all seven of our Southern California campuses.
We seek to preserve and enhance these key aspects of Redlands at this pivotal moment of the University’s history, as we enter the public phase of our comprehensive fundraising campaign that we have named Forever Yours. This campaign speaks to our hearts and rededicates us to ensuring that what we love about the University today will be here for all time.
Raising funds for scholarships to augment the access and affordability of a Redlands education is a significant campaign priority, as are initiatives to ensure personalized education, experiential learning outside the classroom, a more global perspective through initiatives at home and abroad, and continued innovation in our programming.
As many of the stories in this issue of Och Tamale show, the University has set the bar high for providing financial, academic, and social support that enables students to follow their dreams. First-generation students are supported not only through scholarships, but also through targeted orientation and mentorship programs. More than 90 percent of undergraduates in the College receive institutional grants. And between 85 and 90 percent of U of R’s graduating College students complete their degrees in four years. This is an enormous amplification of value, because data (see page 19) show that those students who take six years to attain their bachelor’s end up paying 40 percent more than those who earn it in four.
The merit of a Redlands education was brought home to me once again recently, when I stood side-by-side with Redlands students presenting posters on the research they conducted with their professors in the lab and in the field this year (see page 36 for more on these activities). They spoke with enthusiasm and knowledge about their findings. I traded roles with them and spoke about my own summer research on autoimmune diseases. In the process, we savored one another’s enthusiasm for the research endeavor.
The students’ energy reminded me of formative experiences I had during an undergraduate summer internship with the American Heart Association. There, I studied x-rays, drew blood, performed surgery, and observed interactive rounds in a medical and research environment. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be both a physician and researcher, and I channeled my energy and planning accordingly. That pivotal moment was made possible by my own scholarship donors, a series of caring mentors who challenged and inspired me, and an experiential learning opportunity that brought me into a world I had never seen before.
And that is what the Redlands experience is all about—connecting students to a world of opportunity, where they can develop their passions and potential.
This is your Redlands . . . as it is my Redlands and the Redlands that belongs to all students and friends of the University who have come before and who will come after. I hope you will join Nancy and me in supporting the University to preserve all that we love about it and want to propel into the future for generations to come.
Ralph W. Kuncl, PhD MD
University of Redlands