It has been quite a spring; actually it’s been quite a year. It has included trips to Dubai to present at the I4th Annual International Conference on Drug Discovery & Therapy, attending the University Association for Lifelong Learning in Cambridge UK, presiding over the UPCEA annual meeting in Portland, returning to Laramie, WY and the University of Wyoming, visiting multiple higher education institutions in China, and finally a short trip to Richmond to watch our youngest child graduate from college (VCU) and celebrate our second grandson’s second birthday. Lots of memories, and lots of lessons learned in the process. While I intend to write more about each of these experiences, today I want to simply reflect quickly on this whirlwind of travel.
Dubai: There are a lot of smart people out there who are busy trying to find cures for an untold number of diseases. What struck me the most is that drug discovery is extremely expensive, and thus driven by profit. The result is that there is little reward for working on drugs that will assist lower income patients, or drugs to treat diseases that only affect small numbers of the population. We need to find a way to encourage more research that can assist in addressing drug discovery for diseases impacting a small population, the need for drug therapy for impoverished countries and further the work on drugs that are no longer under patent.
Cambridge: I don’t know if you know this, but everything is really old in Cambridge, and it’s wonderful. I learned a great deal from my UALL colleagues, and thank them for their hospitality. The challenge and opportunity for providing access to higher education is a global responsibility and the good news is that there are wonderful advocates for furthering this effort throughout the world. I am particularly moved by the quote I learned from James Stuart which I see as a call to action: “The object of all education is to teach people to think for themselves, that is the direct or specified object of what is called Higher Education…..a man who is educated in the truest sense may even be unable to read or write, for an educated man is a man who is capable of thinking about what he sees.” (Thanks, Adrian.)
Portland: In a word “WOW!” And two more words: “Thank you!” It really does take a community to pull off something like the UPCEA annual meeting. I learned that members of UPCEA have no limits in terms of what they are willing to do for our profession and for those we serve. I was and continue to be humbled by the opportunity I was given to serve as president of UPCEA.
Wyoming: Apparently you really can go home again. Many thanks to the Outreach College for hosting me at UW and for sharing your insights. Visiting Laramie was a great reminder of how lucky I was to start my career and quite honestly grow up as a professional at the University of Wyoming. Go Pokes!
China: I was delighted to spend 12 days in China and visit a number of higher education institutions in April. This was my third trip to China, and each time I come away amazed and appreciative of the how open our colleagues in China are to partnerships. I learned that people are resilient; we visited Aba Teacher’s College which was destroyed by the 2008 earth quake and was moved to a new site and completely rebuilt. It is amazing what they have accomplished in such a short time.
Richmond: There is nothing like a family gathering to celebrate special events. For us, it was our grandson’s second birthday party and the graduation of our youngest child, James (I still call him Jamie). Our grandson, like all our grandchildren, are the cutest and smartest kids that ever existed, and this two-year-old is no exception. There is something special about watching two-year-olds eat birthday cake, truly more on their faces then in their mouths.
And the graduation (pardon my parental moment) — Peggy and I couldn’t have been more proud. I don’t usually cry at graduations but when Jamie walked across the stage I saw our little boy receive a degree and launch the next stage of his life.
The common themes that not only tie all these trips together but also are the driving forces in my life; providing access to the promise of education, re-discovering the passion and selflessness of my colleagues throughout the world, and finally, there ain’t nothing like being a parent and grandparent, and by the way, there is no place like home.