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Chronicle Messages

President Urges Good Stewardship of Berry's Heritage and Future
Summer 1999
PDF Version

After taking the oath of office and being presented with the presidential medallion, Dr. Scott Colley shared his thoughts about Berry's heritage and future. Dr. Colley began by recounting the parable of the talents from the Gospel of Matthew. Excerpts from his remarks follow:

Our charge is to become good stewards, to carry out our duties according to the highest levels of our ability, and to improve all that has been given to us. Good stewardship is not merely a good thing; it is in fact a moral imperative and a holy commandment.

Charity and stewardship are embodied in our heritage, what we are today calling our heritage of hope. Very nearly a century ago, Martha Berry began to offer hope to young people for whom little hope was otherwise available. Echoing St. Mark, Miss Berry said that we are on this earth "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." She ministered to others by teaching them to help themselves. Her pupils balanced school room lessons with hard work. From these early days came our mission to educate the head, the heart, and the hands: intellectual development, spiritual growth, and worthwhile work done well - and always, service to others.

During the 40 years Miss Berry led her schools, she was never a timid steward. Rather, hers was a bold, energetic agenda. From a boys school, we grew to parallel schools for boys and girls; and then after a dozen and one-half years, we added a junior college; and four years after that a baccalaureate program. We can only wonder what other bold changes Martha Berry would have made had she been given another decade to lead Berry College. She left that challenge in the hands of those who came after her.

St. Matthew tells his story because he knew that it is within our natures to cling to what we have been given, to preserve our talents by burying them, to avoid risk, to wait out the storm. It takes great courage to follow the example of Matthew's two servants who multiplied all with which they had been entrusted. It takes courage to walk the path Martha Berry walked. It takes moral strength to make the most of our opportunities. The secret of keeping the faith is to acknowledge the past while having the courage and vision to reinvent the present. Only thus can we prepare for all that is to come.

At my ear, I hear the voice of Martha Berry asking always for better efforts. And in the distance, in the years ahead, I perceive our destiny, beckoning and challenging all of us to surpass even our most ambitious goals. - Dr. Scott Colley

Our talents and the wealth we hold are ours only for a short time. We have these benefits briefly. The vision that created us began as Martha Berry's vision, hers alone, but in time she handed it on to others. Those of us who know Berry remember the names Leland Green, Gordon Keown, E. H. Hoge, and S. H. Cook, important leaders from our earlier days. And in time, John Bertrand and his colleagues, and then Gloria Shatto and her colleagues, were given their mandates to protect and improve the college. This new era belongs to all of us who respond to the commandment of good stewardship and who are willing to work together toward our vision for tomorrow.

Our alumni must stand forward as new Pilgrims, to replace Martha Berry's Pilgrims of 70 years ago, those old friends and benefactors we can no longer call upon. The future stability of the college is now in the hands of those who studied here in the past. We gather here today not merely because of our fidelity to our heritage, but because we have a commitment to time to come. Our trustees and visitors must confront new patterns of governance to make us strong five, 10, and 20 years hence. Berry College is calling you to stand forward as never before. The faculty must work ceaselessly as teacher-scholars, guides, and mentors of young people as well as practitioners of the arts, sciences, and the professions. The college staff must fill double roles as workers with assigned tasks as well as educators and mentors for the young people who labor beside them. And students, you must live up to the challenges we present you while you live up to your own dream. Grow, learn, and multiply your blessings.

And then there is the great responsibility with which you have entrusted me. I accept the challenge with humility because I am aware of those who have come before. And I accept it with excitement and hopefulness because I believe I can see what lies ahead. Let us together live up to our vision of tomorrow and become good stewards for Berry College and its future. Although I will never hesitate to ask you to do your best, please know that I will work unceasingly to do mine. You have my pledge and my promise to do all that I can to advance our common purpose. At my ear, I hear the voice of Martha Berry asking always for better efforts. And in the distance, in the years ahead, I perceive our destiny, beckoning and challenging all of us to surpass even our most ambitious goals. This presidency is a great honor, and a great responsibility. I accept it even as I ask that you accept a joint mandate for the good work we can do together. Many, many thanks.

Dr. Scott Colley
Berry College President

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