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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


President Atherton’s ‘Enlightened Conscience’

George Atherton, easily Penn State’s most beloved president, spoke eloquently on the purpose of students within the framework of the modern university. Each individual, he believed, had an obligation both to himself and to his alma mater, and it was education that informed what the man labeled an “enlightened conscience”

President Atherton said that each Penn Stater:

“… should look upon himself not merely as a winner of bread, but as a moral force in the world, with noble powers which he must rightly employ, with high duties which he must fulfill, and with the possibilities of a grand destiny which he must labor to achieve. It is the business of a sound education to teach him the nature of these powers, these duties and that destiny; but having done that, it must leave the man to follow the voice of an enlightened conscience, within that inner sanctuary, no teacher, no external authority whatsoever may venture to intrude.”

It is past time that Penn State come together in dialogue to examine whether or not Dear Old State is truly living up to this calling, this destiny, outlined by our great “second founder” of the University. Does Penn State foster an enlightened conscience in its students? Could most students even accurately describe what Atherton meant by that phrase?

Are we taught at Penn State that wee have “noble powers” that we must “rightly employ” for the good of society as we work together toward a “grand destiny”? Take your buddy out for a beer tonight after work is finished or classes let out, and see what he thinks of this supposed higher calling for all Penn Staters.

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