March 8, 2006
Students full of optimism
I learned you spoke last month on a college campus about
integrity in leadership. How were your remarks received?
On Feb. 10-11, on the suburban Chicago campus of my
alma mater, Elmhurst College, student leaders asked me
to discuss their "integrity in leadership" concerns.
Student frustrations seem the same as they were 42 years
ago when I started college: food, grades, discipline,
the future, people with power - business or politics
- and autonomy. Some of their other concerns:
- What can be done to blunt student apathy?
- How does one discover an integrity-centered place
- What does it take to get those in power to listen?
- How do you, Jim Bracher, maintain enthusiasm for
the integrity message in the face of tremendous resistance
by a society that appears self-absorbed, oblivious,
or worse, unwilling to even pretend to care about doing
the right thing?
- What is an honorable profession, now that law, government,
religion, education and business have been tainted
- Who exhibits integrity - and how can we identify
them when we meet them?
- Can powerful people be trusted?
- Did your efforts on social issues, in the 1960s make
a difference, long term?
- Why should we put ourselves under stress? Pressure
has ruined the lives of lots of folks we see, who are
older. Many of them seem to lack financial security.
Even some of those who might be well-off appear bitter
Elmhurst College student leaders remain optimistic.
They smile, study, think, formulate questions, take notes
and seem ready to find their opportunities to become
As teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe said, before dying
in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, "I touch
the future, I teach."
Learn from her. Return to your own alma mater or a local
college or university campus. Teach a class: for an hour,
a day, a week or a semester.
Go, listen and learn about the enthusiasm of the next generation.
Touch the future, teach! Experience their optimism, renewing
your own hope.