Some may view these recommended changes as unnecessary. Others may view them as insufficient. And still others may agree or find fault elsewhere. Disagreement is not defeat. If anything, it should be expected, or better yet encouraged, in a learning community as demographically rich and intellectually honest as ours. But the soul of this great institution will suffer if we allow our differences to be used against us, to sow disrespect or division.
More than ever, we must stand together. Not despite our differences, but because of them. Because it is the combination of uniqueness and unity that makes our University so special, lasting and needed. Here, again, our past not only informs but also inspires. Atop our University’s seal is the Latin phrase Juncta Juvant, which translates to “Strength in Unity.” It is our lodestar for this moment, as well as for any other.
The second, perhaps less known, motto that adorns our seal is Alta Petit, which translates to “Seek the Highest.” For me, the intent is clear: We must never stop learning, improving, aspiring and excelling. So, too, is the implication: We must be the type of institution that is brave enough to revise itself—even, perhaps especially, as it remembers.
Working thoughtfully to balance the revising and the remembering remains, in the words of the late Toni Morrison, at the heart of a great university. In Professor Morrison’s words, “No student is expected to be content with the acquisition of data, of information. It is demanded of her to move beyond the stasis of what is known to what is knowable; toward more and other knowledge, knowledge that might one day contribute to the wisdom of the past.” She continues, “Tradition is not there to bedevil us. It is there for us. It is not there to arrest us; it is there to arouse us. That is the continuum; that is the reconcilability of tradition and the future.”
My sincere hope is that we, as a Bearcats family, can rally around the wisdom of our mottos to further advance our shared devotion to this great institution—to our past, our present and our future.
Neville G. Pinto