Since its founding more than 180 years ago, the University of Michigan has been committed to providing an education that challenges students to become deeply actively engaged in pursuit of understanding - an understanding of society, of the natural world, and of themselves. Our first president, Henry P. Tappan, expressed this commitment when he wrote that universities best educate students "by the self-creative force of study and thought, to make themselves both learned and wise, and thus ready to put their hand to every great and good work."
Learning and advancement of knowledge flourish when we are confronted by new ideas and beliefs and when we test our own ideas and beliefs in dialogue with others whose perspectives and experiences are different from our own. In his essay "Two Concepts of Liberty," Isaiah Berlin noted that his ideas about himself, in particular his sense of his own moral and social identity, were intelligible only in terms of the social network of which he was part. I believe that rich, diverse intellectual and social networks contribute to understanding and to a sense of identity for individuals, for groups of people, and even for institutions such as universities.
Michigan benefits enormously from the wide range of perspectives and talents brought by students, faculty, and staff from a variety of backgrounds. This variety is critically important for maintaining a vital intellectual and educational atmosphere and for instilling a positive sense of community within and beyond the University.
I hope you will join me as we continue to strive to create a community of learning where all thrive, secure in the knowledge that their histories and cultures are valued, and where we all have the opportunity to develop a deeper appreciation for the viewpoints and contributions of others.
Lee C. Bollinger President, University of Michigan
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