Florida College-A Heritage and a Challenge (1)
James R. Cope
Temple Terrace, Florida
(Address by President James R. Cope at Opening of Twenty-fifth Session of Florida College, Temple Terrace September 4, 1970)
Today, September 4, 1970, the Florida College bell will ring 25 times to officially open the 25tb session of this college. This bell sounds for you. With you - her largest student body - Florida College possesses her greatest responsibility. We welcome this thrilling challenge to serve you and your parents.
As Chief Executive Officer of Florida I not only welcome you into our family but I speak to you about a great educational inheritance. In an age that is characterized by an ever decreasing regard for values, I offer you a precious heritage which has steadily increased in value for 25 years. I refer to the heritage of concepts, convictions, ideals, and programs of action which you meet head on for the first time today.
Florida College can be your inheritance to you, not curse you. You had nothing to do with selecting its character or campus site, existent before you were born. You have chosen to enroll here, however, and to accept her offerings. You, like its faculty, are, therefore, morally obligated to care for, protect, and help maintain her physical property. This school has a general spirit not create but of which you did not created if you are to appreciate and maintain it.
Florida College was founded upon a peculiar concept, has a particular concern, upon a unique ideal, and attempts to implement an unusual program. Before you can make the most of your inheritance, you must critically analyze what you are inheriting and assimilate this spirit in the depths of your soul.
Believe me, young people, if America still stands 20 years from now, when you are parents with children of your present age, your heart will burn with appreciation for the intangible but valuable realism in which you are now sharing at Florida College. My purpose today is to make you believe and feel now about your inheritance as I am confident you will believe and feel in later years.
Many of you today begin a phase of life which suspends you between the dependence of your parents' home and the independence of your own home. From this day forward you will be increasingly "on your own." Florida College will endeavor to help you bridge this chasm between the home you inherited and the home you will create.
You who are here for the first time can have only a limited idea of the sacrifices and struggles which have brought the Florida College dream to its 'present reality. Though youth has many assets, one of the handicaps of young people is their inability to appreciate the lives and labors of men and women who have lived and loved and labored that those who come after them may have opportunities and blessings and have them abundantly. Youth is not to be blamed for having no appreciation for something about which it has never known and this is one reason why you are in college - to learn from those who are older and experienced lessons which come only from experience. These are they who can help younger heads understand their heritage and young hearts appreciate the people and things and ideas and ideals and struggles and defeats and successes and joys visible to you only as you see the reflections of these ups and downs in grey hair, furrowed brows, wrinkled hands and stooped forms.
Great teachers make great schools but great teachers are made and molded out of many ingredients. Study of subject matter and application of skills, natural or learned, are essentials but only the teacher is truly great whose heart vibrates to the challenge of anxious minds and thrills to the yielding of tender hearts. His understanding of those he seeks to serve is the ultimate key to his own greatness because therewith he unlocks the storehouse of human potential. Florida College herself is the great teacher in our parable today and it is this heritage that I want you to begin feeling today for it can change your life if you will permit it.
Now and then you see this heritage come to surface when those who laid the cornerstone of Florida College meet on this campus to greet each other with a warm handshake and genuine smile. It has been quite obvious within recent days as scores of returning students happily greeted each other with tears as well as shouts of joy. They have tasted of the Florida College way of life and know they want and need more of it. You saw it and felt it in the spontaneous singing which so often 'occurs before chapel begins. It comes through again when together patrons and students of earlier years through tear dimmed eyes sing, "Our dear F.C., we honor thee; we love your stand for truth; long may you live with firm resolve; to be a friend to youth." This same heritage again comes to surface when, as we shall shortly do, stand in silence while the old bell tolls 25 times to mark the official beginning of the 25th session of Florida College but this same spirit of love and gratitude and fond memories will be more deeply felt when next April 30 the same bell tolls 25 times to mark the official end of one quarter of a century of service to you and others like you. Many here today, as one day you will do, will count the toll of that old bell and will say to themselves, "Those were my years, my happy days of song and laughter, of love and sober study." You cannot know it now but you will sense this spirit when at the chapel hour our beloved brother Hailey, as he did a few moments ago, reads God's word from this platform and you with, him speak to our common Father in prayer. Again this spirit manifests itself when a large number of returning students, because they count it an honor to be asked, respond to an invitation to return early to serve as guidance counselors, to be big brothers and sisters, to new students as they arrive on campus their first time. It is working again as students spontaneously sing while waiting in the cafeteria line. Nowhere is it, expressed more vividly than in the joint devotionals which are wholly a student activity. These are a few of the things which already are becoming a part of your very fiber and feelings at Florida College. Whether or not you know it now, these are the things which you will remember in life's warm afterglow.
This heritage of which we speak is not seen in the mortar and stone and wood and steel on this campus. These buildings, some almost fifty years old and others practically new, are but physical reflections of the heartaches and heartbreaks, the toil, sweat and tears, coupled with all the fun and laughter which have created the spirit which most of you will imbibe and which in reality, is Florida College. The discomforts you have found in crowded rooms and from hot September days will soon fade in the realities of community living "when each can feel his brother's sigh and with him bear a part; when sorrow flows from eye to eye, and joy from heart to heart."
I only wish that I had the power of tongue to bum within your hearts this intangible realism which bursts anew when those who while here planned together, played together and prayed together meet together in later years. If I could make you feel now about Florida College what you will feel even five years from now, to say nothing of 20 years hence when you are sending your own children here, I would make a major contribution to your life.
Never in this century, perhaps never before ht the world's history, has there been the need for the kind of education that Florida College affords. Amazingly enough, in the midst of an age gone mad on protest, pot and prostitution, Florida College has its largest enrollment. In an era of declining enrollment in private colleges Florida College has its largest number. With an increasing number of both private junior and senior colleges closing their doors forever, Florida College has its largest total enrollment in history. All of this tells me that as moral values decline, there are those who yet believe that sin is real and salvation is found in God rather than in gold, that there are thousands awakening to the need for the values which Florida College esteems and espouses. Parents are seeing the need for placing their children in the care of teachers who fear God and believe the Bible rather than with teachers who belittle both. Young Christians are finding an increasing need for friendship with others of high ideals and for life companionship with mates who honor virtue, modesty and sobriety. This is why our enrollment is increasing. The soul of Florida College is not for sale!
Recently I read an enlightening and challenging book, The Drug Scene, written by a medical doctor, Donald B. Louria, an authority on the subject. He says that there are three main factors which explain why so many teenagers are turning to drugs. These factors are the concern of every decent American citizen. They are:
(1) "Disintegrating family units"
(2) Permissive educators and parents
(3) Inept and weak governmental leaders who put a premium upon mediocrity and self-interest. "Two derivative consequences of inadequate leadership are non-commitment and a growing disrespect for law." They evidence themselves in the hippy cult and lawless gangs.
To the Bible believing individual, Dr. Louria's well researched conclusions are no surprise. God has always known and has clearly revealed that man's greatest problems would be in lawlessness, failure to exercise parental responsibility, and a disregard of marriage vows.
I thank God that the conditions described by this man who thereby explains the present drug situation do not exist among your parents or within Florida College.
Your parents know God's law governing marriage and parental duty and are trying to fulfill their responsibility to "nurture" you "in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." This is why they have placed you in an environment designed to strengthen your faith in God, develop your moral attributes, increase your academic intelligence, rather than abrogate their responsibilities to educators who may weaken what they have sought to make strong.
Now that you are here to enjoy and benefit from what others have made possible I suggest a few things which you have a right to expect from the administration and faculty of Florida College.
First, you have a right to expect each teacher and administrator to be a Christian all the time. By a Christian is meant not a person who never makes mistakes but one who not only legitimately wears the name but who consistently endeavors to adorn his own character with the image of Jesus Christ and who performs the works commanded by Him.
Second, you have a right to expect- fair treatment by all students who wear the name Christian and to whatever degree you expect such of your teachers or dorm mothers.
Third, you have a right to expect evident lesson preparation, good to excellent instruction from your teachers, and fair treatment always.
Fourth, you have a right to expect enough personal time from your teachers outside class to have more than a speaking acquaintance but balanced with your own awareness that they must counsel others besides you.
Fifth, you have a right to expect consistent and fair treatment by dormitory supervisors.
Sixth, you have a right to expect a reasonable return for the money your parents pay for goods and services. Specifically, I speak of courteous and fair treatment from the offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Dean of Students, Registrar, Business Manager, and Librarian, all of which are directly related to student-on-campus life. Included in this also are reasonable food service and quality as may properly be expected in institutional feeding where the same persons must eat at the game place for several months. This also goes for living quarters.
In summation you have a right to expect academic excellence in and personal attention from your teachers, reasonable and courteous service from administrators and staff members, and fair treatment and conduct becoming Christians always and everywhere.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 1, pp. 3-6