Dr. King envisioned the conception of community we embrace today – a conception in which each individual is tied to all others. As he said in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture, “We are inevitably our brothers’ keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality.” Moreover, Dr. King emphasized that not only are we tied to each other, but each individual’s development depends on their engagement with, and support of, the broader community. – “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala., Aug. 11, 1957)
Following in this tradition, strengthening “Community and Communication” is a central theme of our new strategic plan, “Building on Excellence.” Guided by our plan, we are rededicating ourselves to the ideal and importance of community – to the ideal that shared values and shared experiences matter and to the recognition that accomplishing our missions of education, research and service depends on our communal efforts.
Initiatives in the plan will enhance our shared experiences, create smaller communities of support within the larger university and build our relationships with the broader San Diego community. While space limits preclude a full listing of our initiatives, important steps we took this fall include a focus on the recruitment and retention of under-represented students, raising the profile of the arts on campus, celebrating the accomplishments of our faculty and staff, and launching the Pride Center with resources for our LGBT community – all efforts that strengthen our community.
This spring, another very important step will be the opening of the new Aztec Student Union. The student union embodies our aspirations to build a stronger community; it will be a gathering place for decades. The union opens on Jan. 22, and we will have our grand opening events in early March. These events will celebrate the vision of our students, the skills of the men and women who constructed the center and the strength of our community.
It is altogether fitting that as we celebrate community this spring, we will also be commemorating and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic visit to our campus. I hope that each and every member of our community will join us for these celebrations.