A college without a mission is like a ship without a rudder. I could not agree more with our first Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics, Seth Arsenian, who articulated this point in 1969. It was true then, and could not be truer now. Universities and colleges that alter their guiding philosophy just to gain a share of the market do a tremendous disservice to prospective students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Fortunately, Springfield College was founded on a strong and actionable mission—our Humanics philosophy—that is as relevant today as it was on January 28, 1885, when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts incorporated the School for Christian Workers and we first began our work of educating leaders who serve.
How do we propagate Humanics today? This work takes many forms. First, we educate the whole person, in spirit, mind, and body, for leadership in service to others. Our Humanics approach informed every class our alumni had while they were here. No matter their major or their current vocation or avocation, our alumni know what this means. So many of our alumni have told me that our Humanics philosophy continues to be their rudder, to help guide them as they do their daily work, as they build careers and businesses, and make major life decisions.
Second, our Humanics philosophy is a living, breathing one. Arsenian challenged future leaders to examine and evaluate, to renovate and re-create our educational ideal through dedication and commitment. “We ask no slavish obedience to its form and figure,” he said. Humanics is not merely a word that lives in a dusty tome on a shelf somewhere. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the work of our Distinguished Springfield Professors of Humanics who, annually, examine Humanics through the lens of their own personal journeys and then present their scholarship to the community.
While Humanics is, or was, at the core of their teaching, it is so strong—so unassailable—a mission, that it enables and facilitates their innovation. Springfield College continues to achieve status as one of the finest institutions in the world, and many point to our Humanics philosophy as the main reason for our success, for our unique value to the world. (The collection of annual Humanics Lectures can be found at springfield.edu/Humanics-history. I emphatically encourage you to peruse these works.)
Third, through the commitment of our distinguished professors and members of our faculty and staff and their families, we ensure that a Springfield College education is attainable through the Friends in Humanics Scholarship created by Emeritus Professor Peter Polito, PhD. These scholarship funds are designated for students who demonstrate financial need, as well as academic scholarship, leadership on campus, care and concern for community, and who embody our Humanics philosophy.
This May, hundreds of new Springfield College alumni moved their tassels from the right to the left at Commencement and began a new chapter in their lives. They now join your ranks, the ranks of alumni who have made a commitment to lead and to serve. While some still may not be familiar with the word Humanics, its meaning is clear to those of us who live it, and its core components are woven into the fabric of what we, today, call Springfield College.
Mary-Beth A. Cooper, PhD, DM