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Perspective: The letter B and what it means

There we were, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I, driving on Friday last November to the inauguration of Eric Boynton as the 12th President of Beloit College. Actually, I was listening to a CD of Reverend Tutu explaining the South African concept of ubuntu. Roughly translated, it means. “I am because we are.”

The perfect prologue for the rest of that day.

Anyone who follows higher education knows that colleges and universities are…struggling. But Eric Boynton is not intimidated by such challenges. As a professor of philosophy and religious studies, then the Provost at Beloit, he knows he is not alone in his energy and enthusiasm. He uses phrases like “a shared passion for what is to come.” He has a record of listening and problem solving.

In an interdependent world on the spectrum between tradition and futurism, transformative learning and the innovative spirit of Beloit College have been nurtured for 177 years. On campus, in the community and far beyond.

Were Desmond Tutu still alive, he would recognize a version of ubuntu that will reflect the essence of this small, liberal arts college for years. We might remember it, too, when we see the Beloit letter B, and the words Be All In.

I am because we are. A college education at its best.

I am Rick Brooks, and that’s my perspective.


Rick Brooks retired after 26 years as an outreach program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Co-founder of the Little Free Library movement, Rick now lives in Princeton, Illinois and runs Midwest Partners, a civic engagement group.