As the University of Dallas comes ever closer to choosing a new president, it seems proper to wonder why any particular person would come and join this unique community of learning.
I had a difficult time choosing to come to UD. I am the kind of person who likes to plan and take control of my life. As a senior in high school, I wanted to be a fashion merchandiser. I struggled a great deal knowing that UD wouldn’t set me on a direct path to that goal.
I expressed this all to an upperclassman on my last visit to UD before I made my decision, and she said something that changed my life.
“Don’t make choices based on what you want to be; make choices based on who you want to become,” she said.
The advice seems redundant at first, but below the surface it is rich with wisdom. Making choices based on what you want to be forsakes the importance of your journey in favor of your pursuit of an end.
The “what” are titles like rich, or nurse. The “what” are ends defined by a bank statement or a diploma. Making choices based on who I want to become recognizes that the journey is the goal and that any single material goal is insufficient.
This journey toward unachievable goals like truth and faith leaves one in a continual process of becoming.
The upperclassman I spoke with was pointing out the great difference between UD and the other colleges on my list. I might not leave UD with a cookie cutter degree, leading me right to the job I dreamt of, but I would discover greater dreams and truth that would constantly challenge me to be a better individual.
It was scary to take the path that had no defined end, but there was something special and unique about the people at UD. I found a place that felt like home.
I hope our new president recognizes the difference between being and becoming. I understand why the president of a university would care more about being. It makes sense that the goal of beautifying the physical campus would lead to more students applying, which would lead to more money, which would lead to more programs, which would lead to more donors. The cycle can continue endlessly.
These are admirable goals, but they are cookie cutter goals. They don’t take into account that which makes this university unique.
UD students don’t care if the Cap Bar is updated to be state of the art so that it rivals other universities. In fact, it seems like we prefer it to stay simple and sentimental. We don’t want fewer Core classes so that we can focus more on our future career goals. In fact, we will staunchly protest if someone tries to create a way that an individual could graduate UD without taking Core classes.
We would love better funding so that we could have more programs and our professors could be paid the amount they deserve, but we are not willing to sacrifice the spirit of this university to get there. We don’t want more students if those students come to UD for fancy amenities or a quick degree. We want students who are drawn to the beauty and truth of the community and the Core.
We need a president that focuses, as we do, on becoming. It doesn’t matter if they are a man, woman or an alumnus. It matters if they are drawn to the spirit of this place.
We want a president who desires to immerse themself in our university because it offers them a unique opportunity to grow as a person, not just to add a bullet point to their resume. They should be drawn here because this community is a place where truth flourishes and souls are constantly challenged in their search for beauty.
I recognize that this seems romantic, and because of that, I admit this path probably won’t lead to UD being the richest or highest ranking university. I don’t know if I speak for everyone when I say this, but I don’t think we care.
The university is not a hill in Irving or a vineyard in Rome. It is a community of strong individuals across the globe who bring the spirit of UD to their own homes and communities.
This university is like no other. That means we need a president who is equally special.