A Model of Leadership Education, Part 8: The Campuswebdev
“He believed the sky had a moral function, and that contemplating it induced wonder, a sense of possibility without limit, and inspiration.” An Education for Our Time – Josiah Bunting
The last but not necessarily the least important ingredient to building statesmen is the atmosphere of the campus. The least maybe in importance when compared to the others, but extremely impactful all the same. When it comes to considering the growth of our infants, or the performance of the symphony, or the resting place of our loved ones, we always think strongly about the environment. But when it comes to education, we have come to think very “Industrial Age.” To vigorously build New American Founders with the greatest potential outcome, we must not scrimp on one of the most overlooked and least understood aspects of developing the human spirit; the natural and human enhanced environmental surroundings; the physical campus itself.
Philosophy of the Environment
How do you feel when you hear the wind in the grass on a wide-open prairie, the singing of early morning songbirds, the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel or smell the pungent scent of a forest of pines. There is a peace that surrounds and enfolds us when we are in a beautiful art gallery or museum. Standing in front of the black wall of the Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. one is easily moved to tears. We cannot help sensing the thick solitude of the Jefferson or Lincoln Memorials while they teach us the price one pays to lead and the debt owed by a grateful nation.
The overwhelming view from a mountain-top, the sense of awe looking down into the Grand Canyon or the feeling of impotence while crossing a vast ocean. What do these all have in common? They are all sensations caused by their environment. Used properly, environment can significantly, and sometimes drastically, enhance the teaching and learning experience. The environment philosophy of Monticello College is to use every natural and manmade environmental factor to facilitate, promote, advance and stimulate the building of New American Founders.
The American cities of the 1700’s would be considered remote and small town by today’s standards. In the 1750’s the largest city on the eastern seaboard was Boston at some 15,000 inhabitants. One of the most overlooked aspects of the founding era educational system was the lack of modern distractions. If we are going to model the founding educational system and even simulate it, with a reasonable expectation of similar results, we must model all of it. To situate the permanent campus in a geographical area that is prone to slow growth is vital.
As no boisterous music is permitted on campus, the visitor finds himself surrounded mostly by nature and silence; a sense of well being permeates the campus. If the classroom is vibrant, the outer campus is peaceful. The grounds are immaculate, with an abundance of lawns, shrubs, trees, flowers, small clusters of benches and tables, gazebos and statuary. There are a number of areas designed for solitary thought; a nook here and there created in a clump of trees, a resting place atop a boulder at the end of a walking trail.
The campus hosts a number of amenities including mountain bike and equestrian trails, tennis and racquetball courts, a intramural sports field for baseball, football, soccer and volleyball, and a swimming pool.
Intent of the Facilities
The sole purpose for this physical campus is to facilitate, promote, advance and stimulate the building of New American Founders. The existence of such an installation for anything other than philanthropic reasons would defy the laws of sound business. Monticello College is not a for-profit business, hence its campus should not be viewed in business terms; only from the perspective of what kind of physical plant is best for building future disinterested citizens and leaders.
Where is the Colorado Plateau?
At the western foot of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau or better known as the “Four Corners,” has long been considered a sacred gathering place by the Native American Indians. Settled by a mixture of bandits, miners and westward traveling Mormon pioneers, this area is unique in all of Utah. The cultural richness of the area is virtually unknown to anyone outside of the vicinity. The region is just beginning to be noticed by outdoor enthusiasts who come to Moab (50 miles north) for world-class rock climbing, jeep safari, mountain biking and ATV trails.
Some of the state’s greatest outdoor wonders reside in this region with Monticello as the crossroads between Salt Lake City and Lake Powell, Denver, Durango and the rest of the Four Corners Area.
With an elevation of 7,000 feet, the weather in this region is surprisingly well suited for farming and is blessed with monsoon like conditions throughout the summer months which make “dry farming” a very viable option for the many farmers here. The site of the Monticello College campus is a 50 acre parcel located at the foot of the Blue Mountains, directly above Monticello and is covered with Scrub Oak, Quacking Aspen, Juniper and Pine trees.
Within 5 minutes driving distance to the East is a world-class 18-hole golf course and on the West, the site borders National Forest. From the highest vantage point of the site one can easily see the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah, Lone Cone and Sleeping Ute Mountains in Colorado, the Ship Rock landmark in New Mexico and the Mogollon Rim in Arizona; all Four Corner landmarks.
Generally flat, the site terrain also sports a number of small canyons perfectly adding terrain diversity and walking pleasure. All utilities are at the property boundaries and the local government is excited to have Monticello College in their city, offering to be very helpful in the planning and zoning process.
The closest international airport is 3 hours away in Grand Junction and SLC is only 5 hours drive directly North. Monticello is the county seat for San Juan County, putting the college in the best location for students to observe the inner workings of county and city government. With no other liberal arts colleges physically located in San Juan County, Monticello College will experience full academic autonomy and be allowed to grow and develop in the full freedom of America’s last frontier.
In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in abstentia. She was at the time, under house arrest by the military for being democratically elected president of Burma. Her title essay published at the time of the award begins thus:
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
Not since the civil rights unrest of the 50’s and 60’s have Americans been openly exposed to this kind of raw abuse of power and control and unbridled fear.
Nowhere in history have a people been completely devoid of it. The American Founders knew too well the abusive nature of power and determined to ensure that there posterity would not live in its shadow. Much of what they put into place has been unraveled and we are ripe to once again feel the influence of unfettered power, control and fear.
Monticello College is dedicated to cultivating an education and environment that foster public virtue, induce moral character, and emulate the courage and foresight of the American founding period, preparing our graduates to guard the principles of liberty; the one sure sentinel against fear. The American founding taught us that the only way to defend again the darker side of our natures is to create a system of government designed to promote liberty, develop and inculcate a specific kind of educational process that produces virtuous, hardworking, innovative, deep thinking, disinterested citizens, and sponsor a culture of virtue.
It changed the world over 200 years ago. It will change the world again.