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Archive for July, 2013

ChamberlainThe summer gives me time to reflect on purpose, leadership and legacy.    Today I ran across a quote from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Union Civil War general, Medal of Honor winner, and later President of Bowdoin College.  The quote comes from an  address to the 16th Maine Volunteers in Gardiner, Maine 1898.  

There is a way of losing that is finding. When soul overmasters sense; when the noble and divine self overcomes the lower self; when duty and honor and love,—immortal things,—bid the mortal perish! It is only when a man supremely gives that he supremely finds.

Joshua Chamberlain’s life should be an inspiration to university professors everywhere.   A man of humble origins,  Chamberlain returned to his alma mater, Bowdoin College, and began a career in education as a professor of rhetoric.  He eventually went on to teach every subject in the curriculum with the exception of science and mathematics. In 1861 he was appointed Professor of Modern Languages.  In the Civil War, Chamberlain achieved fame at the Battle of Gettysburg, where his valiant defense of a hill named Little Round Top became legendary and resulted in him being awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor.  After serving as Governor of Maine, he returned to Bowdoin College.  In 1871, he was appointed president of Bowdoin and remained in that position until 1883.

Chamberlain’s quote is one for the ages.   I reflect on my life’s mission – the development of the human potential in others and inspiring others to do the same.  It seems so obvious  – we find our destiny through the immortal.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

[note: for a list of famous university presidents, including Joshua Chamberlain, see the blog post “List of Famous University Presidents (United States)“.]

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