Equality and excellence at Guilford College

For a long time I have wondered if equality and excellence are compatible values.edward-hicks-the-peaceable-kingdom

Doesn’t a commitment to excellence require excluding who or what falls short of excellence? Doesn’t excellence require ranking, which de-equalizes? And aren’t those things incompatible with a commitment to equality?

Well, I don’t know – but I observe in Guilford College a community of people who are committed both to equality and to excellence – and they make it work. An extraordinarily committed faculty lead and teach an unusually diverse group of students. So many of those students emerge from their different backgrounds and – encouraged by teachers, who take a personal interest in them – achieve quite extraordinary things.

And Guilford alumni continue to feel themselves part of a unique post-graduate community that is bound together by shared values, common experiences at college and continuing relationships with the faculty and with each other after graduation .

The fierce emphasis on values at Guilford College somehow encompasses both equality and excellence. (“That of God in every person.”)

Not many colleges, not that many communities, get that done.

I was part of a unique convocation of Guilford College students, faculty, alumni, trustees and staff this past weekend. A large group sat down together in an old gym with no acoustics to begin talking about Guilford’s value proposition. What sets Guilford apart? In that group – in its diversity and in its shared commitments to equality and excellence – I saw something I thought nearly unique.

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