The Energy of Youth

Education

BY DONAL O'SHEA SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY NOV 11, 2017

I returned to Sarasota on Thursday from a meeting in Orlando of the Board of Governors of the State University System. The meeting had begun with the annual trustee summit, in which trustees and senior staff from all 12 universities joined the governors to consider a few issues of particular importance to the state’s universities. The summit was followed by 14 hours dealing with facilities needs, new academic programs and student life in the system as a whole and at each university, including New College, individually. The drive from Orlando to Sarasota was grindingly slow, with two accidents along I-4, and heavy traffic on I-75.

On arriving in Sarasota, I stopped at New College to see the opening of the student play Rebelde: Confessions from your Dead Abuela.

It would be difficult to imagine a greater contrast to the BOG meeting.

The cast and crew of the play were entirely female; the university presidents, board chairs and governors at the BOG meeting were overwhelming male.

The cast members were various shades of brown and young; the presidents, board chairs and governors were mostly white and far older.

The play went straight to the heart. The BOG meeting was thoroughly analytical.

They play focused on relationships, the BOG meeting on resources.

The play brimmed with energy, the BOG meeting with duty.

The play took 45 minutes, the BOG meeting 22 hours.

The cast of the play collected money to aid Puerto Rico. At the BOG meeting, arrangements were made to grant Puerto Rican students access to SUS institutions at in-state tuition rates.

The contrast between the play and the BOG meeting underscores the fundamental tension that powers a university, one between the imagination and energy of youth and the experience and caution that come with age. The play offered a glimpse into the lives of great achievement that New College enables. The BOG meeting allowed New College (and the other state universities) to do that work. For 45 minutes, it all made sense.

Dr. Donol O'Shea is president of New College of Florida

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