With the adoption of new college-wide themes, Mary Baldwin University has solidified 10 years of uniting the campus community around a central idea that fosters civic and global engagement.
After taking nominations and hearing input from students for several weeks, faculty fellows and staff from the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement chose Moment for the 2015–16 theme and Identity for the 2016–17 theme. Past years’ refrains have included Courage, Place, Power, Heart, Maps, Voices, and Wisdom. During this year, Roots gives definition to the academic and co-curricular programs and provides a way to link together the work of students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines.
“The  nominations were broad and creative and demonstrated a commitment across all facets of the college to civic engagement in a global context,” said Steve Grande, the Spencer Center’s executive director. “We selected Moment because it connected well to many disciplines and challenged our community to consider what it means to ‘be in the moment,’ to ‘seize the moment’ and consider how ‘moments are the precursor to stories,’ as one reviewer wrote. It connects to physical motion (momentum) and to what it means to assess social situations (read the moment) and to take advantage of the unique opportunity to pursue an education at Mary Baldwin (this is your moment).”
Mary Baldwin senior Lynnae Sauer, who also successfully nominated Roots for this academic year, suggested the winning theme for next year. Sauer also won the essay competition on campus that was meant to encourage deeper reflection on this year’s theme. Her essay focused on recent study abroad experiences.
“You see, roots aren’t just our root system reaching outwards,” Sauer wrote. “Roots are also connections, relationships, and community. I believe that by firmly planting our roots all over the world and forming connections with those around us, we can all contribute to a global community that has the power to solve world hunger, stop climate change, cure Ebola, confront conflicts, and respond to every challenge in every corner of the world.”
Abigail West ’18 composed a song for the harp that Spencer Center staff thought best reflected this year’s theme.
“Finding yourself, believing in yourself, trusting your abilities, and accepting who you are is imperative for every student within a student body to know how to do,” wrote Nicole Rector ’18, in her winning nomination of Identity.
Grande said the Spencer Center faculty fellows became enthusiastic as they considered the many advantages of Rector’s motif.
“Student reviewers described how Mary Baldwin shapes and provides a rich environment for students to gain insight into their evolving and multiple identities,” Grande said. “It also connects to disciplines like psychology, social work, anthropology, literatures and cultures and sociology as well as to other disciplines from the perspective of our identities as scholars.”