100 Years of Educational Excellence: Reflecting on the Principia Idea
At the 1912 commencement, Principia’s “six-year course” bade farewell to its first graduates. The six-year course was an innovative academic program that led to the founding of the Junior College, which, in turn, laid the foundation for establishing Principia College.
One hundred years after that first post-secondary graduation, a new tradition—the President’s Forum—was inaugurated during last month’s Commencement Weekend. These forums won’t always have a historical perspective, but the inaugural one looked back on Principia’s first century of higher education. Three faculty emeriti were the guests of honor: Dr. Colin Campbell, Professor Paula Bradley, and Dr. David Pfeifer (also a former College president). Dr. Palmer hosted the event in the College Chapel.
To kick off the evening, Dr. Palmer recounted significant events from earlier years, including the establishment of a Christian Science Society at the College in 1921, the founding of the School of Nations in 1927, the founding of the School of Government in 1936, the first Public Affairs Conference in 1939, and many other significant milestones. This recap set the stage for the speakers’ reflections on their combined 100-plus years at Principia.
Although the three talks were not intentionally coordinated, this theme, from Dr. Pfeifer’s remarks, did recur: “Principia moves one to become moral and express the good.” Pfeifer grounded his assertion in the inspiration he felt when, during his interview for a faculty position with David Andrews, he realized that Dr. Andrews was both presenting and expecting an example of spiritual and moral leadership. Pfeifer went on to share instances of this ideal he had witnessed at Principia: Summer Sessioners helping the surrounding community during the flood of 1993 and College students’ stand for right education when it appeared that one of the language majors would have to be phased out.
Professor Bradley shared her “life-changing” first encounter with the Maybeck buildings, buildings that imparted to her a “sense of belonging” and were a “source of nourishment of many kinds.” These feelings deepened throughout her Principia experience, strengthened in part by the uplifting sisterhood her classmates shared with her—sisterhood she was then able to extend to others.
Dr. Campbell described Mrs. Morgan as an “operative” in bringing the leaven of Truth to education, noting that this leavened idea of education is key not only to the success Principia has already achieved but to its continued progress as well. After explaining that he thought of the World War II GI’s at the College as “freedom fighters,” Campbell shared that being a freedom fighter would be a wonderful way to be a Christian Scientist. He added that Principia’s efforts to support the unfoldment of the “whole man” and to train students to think helped prepare Principians to be freedom fighters. Campbell concluded his remarks with an invigorating call to action: “Lock and load, freedom fighters. As the sowing, the reaping.”
The speakers’ insights on the Principia experience moving Principians (including themselves) to “express the good” set a fitting tone for Commencement Week activities and reminded us of the continuing blessing that is Principia.
(You may listen to the entire forum on Principia Internet Radio under Principia College Downloadable Radio Programs.)