On Perspective: Forging Ahead and Looking Back

This week, the Middle Georgia State University Advisory Council will meet for the first time. Comprised of 25 local, regional, and statewide leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors, the Council will help advise on the strategic direction of the University.

A full list of Council members is available here. Establishing the Council was one of the 20 initiatives we pursued under our University Strategic Plan and I am pleased that so many talented Georgians are partnering with us on this endeavor.

As I mentioned when we announced the Council earlier this week, we want to remain grounded in the reality of the communities we serve and engaged in economic development. Getting fresh perspective from key stakeholders is essential to forging ahead in our university mission.

Later this week, I will take off my administrator hat and return to the classroom, offering three lectures—one in Cochran, one in Macon, and one as a guest speaker at Mercer University—on April 6, 2017, as we observe the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. As many of you know, I have a keen interest in WWI, rooted in part on family history. My two grandfathers fought and survived, but my Great Great Uncle never returned.

With promises that America would fight to “make the world safe for democracy”—a foreign policy approach that has endured to this day—the entrance of the US into World War I made it a global war. Ten million lives were lost and twenty five million additional casualties incurred.

Although the US only participated in the final fifteen months of combat, twice as many Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice in WWI as those Americans who did so in the entire Vietnam War. Another third of a million Americans returned scarred for life.

As we forge ahead with today’s endeavors, it is worth looking back at the Forgotten Generation that President Woodrow Wilson sent into harm’s way.  Americans today can be thankful that much of what we love and enjoy about our lives and our world was created through the crucible of the Great War. In the end, the Great War brought forth a legacy of enormous social and cultural change, including the voting emancipation of women and the search for equality of minorities.

What legacy will we leave? When our great great grandchildren look back 100 years from now, what will we have created for them?