"What’s So Special About Arcadia?"
I have been asked this question, or a variant of it, literally hundreds of times since becoming President last summer. It’s asked by Beaver and Arcadia alumni eager for current news about their alma mater, by my colleagues from earlier engagements trying to figure out my current pursuits, by parents of high school students trying to narrow their choices, and by elected officials and funders intent on due diligence. In the increasingly competitive environment of higher education, it focuses us not only on our attributes but our mission. Why are we here?
I can attest that we spend each day doing our best to honor the Arcadia Promise of a deeply personal, integrative, global education. The opportunities are enormous to work closely with faculty, who are intent on producing graduates who are intellectually curious and entirely at ease with critical thinking, the scientific method, strategic planning, decision analysis; who are skilled in both expression and communication; who know they are privileged and appreciate their obligation to give back; and who are happy to work and recreate in groups or by themselves, ready for life-long learning in its many shapes and sizes.
But what I think makes Arcadia truly special, even unique, is our commitment to producing graduates who are prepared to thrive and lead in the global marketplace.
On our main campus in Glenside, our faculty and their leaders are intent on infusing our curricula in every degree program with as much transnational and culturally diverse content as possible. By the time they leave, more than 90 percent of our undergraduate students will have traveled and studied abroad. We enable our students to take their financial aid with them, and we go the extra mile for those whose financial needs are seen as prohibitive. And we are intent upon not just academic excellence, but cultural and civic engagement wherever we go.
There’s a great deal to that, as I have learned in my trips overseas. We are exceedingly selective in the academic institutions with which we partner and in the faculty whom we engage to teach our students. We require all courses taught overseas to be reviewed and approved by our faculty in Glenside, just as we would a course taught here, and we stubbornly insist that our students take a course in the native language while there. We select housing for our students that avoids chains and the protective bubble of U.S. affluence. We take them on cultural expeditions that provide deep local meaning while avoiding tourists, and we encourage them to participate in service projects that are sponsored by their home communities.
For more than a decade, we have led the nation in the percentage of degree-seeking students who spend some of their academic careers in a foreign country. For the last several years, the University has been deliberately integrating international education into all phases of its academic programs. Today, we are intent on bringing more international students, faculty and organizations to our campuses in Glenside, Christina and King of Prussia so that the interaction with diverse peoples, cultures, attitudes and perspectives will span all years and aspects of our students’ education.
What a wonderful mission! That is what’s so special about Arcadia. I invite you now to read more about the excellence of the experience that we are offering today to our 7,500 students—on our campuses in Glenside, King of Prussia, and Christiana, Del., and in 78 cities (and counting) around the globe.
Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III