Intellectual Conversations Sparked by a Summer Reading Offer

Daring Greatly Brene Brown


Class Dean Arthur Sutherland made an offer to the class of 2020: the first 50 students who chose a book from a list recommended by members of the faculty would receive the book and get an invitation to a session of book conversations and snacks during the first week of school. Books included My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Dr. James Snow, Philosophy), The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri (Dr. Dipa Sarkar-Day, Mathematics and Statistics), Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Dr. Gayla McGlamery, English), Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Dr. Birgit Albrecht, Chemistry), Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (Dr. Natka Bianchini, Fine Arts), Bleak House by Charles Dickens (Dr. Carol Abromaitis, English), and Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg (Dr. Peter Lorenzi, Management and International Business).

It was my great pleasure to discuss Daring Greatly, by Bréne Brown, with Mike, an artistic finance major whose invitation for amazing “Sunday Sauce” made him quite popular; Rebecca, a statistics and computer science major who is a new Campus Ministry intern; Michele-Rose, a transfer from the University of Scranton who is enjoying her studies in Speech Language Hearing Sciences; and Katie, a psych major who nearly set a record in the number of post it notes attached to various pages of the book. We discussed Dr. Brown’s insight on the importance of knowing oneself and of taking risks, both personally and professionally and reflected on the title of the book, taken from a speech given at the Sorbonne in 1910 from then former president Theodore Roosevelt,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The conversation was the highlight of my week. I hope you will engage your fellow students and faculty members in equally intellectually stimulating dialogue this week.

~Amanda M. Thomas, interim vice president for academic affairs


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