Stories, Conversations, Thinking Ahead
No one at Southwestern knows exactly when we started calling the leaning tree on the golf course the story tree. It happened over time as generations saw it, always there, growing in stature and extending its branches. Today, it serves as a central symbol for Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign.
During my time as a student at Southwestern (1964-68), I never heard anyone call this tree the story tree. However, I do remember the tree as a great place to have a thoughtful conversation. It was a place that drew close friends and sweethearts for warm and serious interludes. It was a popular place on campus for enjoying the beauty of a serene Texas day with others or to lose oneself deep in thought. Like the University itself, this unusual tree, this story tree, remains a special place.
Now, as in the l960s and before, Southwestern is characterized by intellectual conversations that transform the lives and the life stories of our students. The intimate, intense, intellectual experience that all Southwestern alumni have enjoyed is quite rare in higher education. A welcoming community, strong bonds between students and faculty, and diversity of thought provide the fertile soil in which seeds of personal and intellectual growth find purchase.
Providing all the elements that allow Southwestern to offer such an outstanding educational experience is not inexpensive and requires thinking ahead. When we hire new faculty to maintain our 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio; when we strengthen our residential environment with new living-learning communities; when we envision a distinctive, life-transforming program like Paideia®; when we plan for a campus that will be an inviting place to live and work while wired (or wireless) with new technology, we are thinking ahead.
We are a Texas institution, competing nationally, to prepare citizens to live globally. The Southwestern story tree is real. What we do today will nourish it, the University and all of us for generations to come.
Jake B. Schrum 68
President, Southwestern University