The role of a university

Dr. David Maxwell
2012 Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award recipient

Our 2012 Iowa Character Awards were held on August 3.  Among the 13 award recipients was Dr. David Maxwell, president of Drake University.  Today’s post features an excerpt from his acceptance speech.

“… we seem to live in an era in which belief and assertion seem to have the same validity as knowledge and facts.  We are victims of the fact that most of the so-called news outlets, as well as so-called reality TV, are conditioning the public to believe that screaming, yelling, interrupting and name-calling are the ways in which people conduct meaningful discourse—when in reality they’re the verbal equivalent of professional wrestling.  They’re not real, they’re not true—they’re scripted to entertain, and I fear that they’re destroying our collective IQ as a nation.  We’ve certainly lost our ability as a public—and as public policy-makers—to carry out reasoned discourse about vital issues that affect the future of our country.  And I’m sure it’s going to get worse as the campaign season heats up.

“This phenomenon makes the role of colleges and universities—and organizations like Character Counts In Iowa—all the more important in a civil society.  A University must serve as the place where people can come together to debate the critical issues of the day in an atmosphere of mutual respect, civility and the spirit of inquiry.”

We’ll be posting more from President Maxwell’s speech throughout the month.

You can read the full version of his remarks here.

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