Campus Compact

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Campus Compact > Presidents’ Resources > Quotes to Use


Quotes to Use


In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom’¦

When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased to be free. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Pericles knew that any successful society must be an educational institution. However great its commitment to individual freedom and diversity, it needs a code of civic virtue and a general devotion to the common enterprises without which it cannot flourish or survive. It must transmit its understanding of good and bad and a sense of pride, admiration, and love for its institutions and values to its citizens, especially the young. Donald Kagan, Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy

Knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Continental Congress in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. (With this ordinance, Congress established a precedent for the support of public education that would grow to substantial commitments in later years.)

[The academy should] make for less misery among the poor, less ignorance in the schools, less suffering in the hospital, less fraud in business, [and] less folly in politics. Daniel Coit Gilman, President, Johns Hopkins University in 1876 (source: Learning to Serve: Kluwer Press, Kenny et al editors, 2002)

Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife. John Dewey

In Wisconsin the university is as close to the intelligent farmer as his pig-pen or his tool-house; the university laboratories are part of the alert manufacturer’s plant; to the workers, the university is drawing nearer than the school around the corner and is as much his as his union or his favorite saloon. Lincoln Steffans’ visit to UW Madison written up in 1909 in The American Magazine

In the world and at home, you have the opportunity and the responsibility to help make the choices which will determine the greatness of this nation’¦You live in the most privileged nation on earth. You are the most privileged citizen of that privileged nation; for you have been given the opportunity to study and learn’¦You can use your enormous privilege and opportunity to seek purely private pleasure and gain. But history will judge you, and as the years pass, you will ultimately judge yourself, on the extent to which you have used your gifts to lighten and enrich the lives of your fellow man. In your hands, not with presidents or leaders, is the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own’¦ Robert F. Kennedy – Speech to the University of California, October 23, 1966

Our colleges and universities need a healthy and vital society in which to flourish. Colleges and universities don’t spring u in remote and uninhabited desert areas. They spring up when there is a society that needs them, provides them with resources and protects them.

The cities and metropolitan regions of this nation are studies in social fragmentation. Urban and rural, the social fabric of our nation is badly frayed. It will take years of unsparing effort to repair the social disintegration that we have allowed to occur. The colleges and universities cannot stand aside and let others struggle with these problems. John Gardner, founder of Common Cause and the Independent Sector, director of Health, Education and Welfare in a speech to Campus Compact in 1998

The most important thing an institution does is not to prepare a student for a career, but for life as a citizen. Frank Newman, founder of Campus Compact and former president of University of Rhode Island and the Education Commission of the States.


When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice other suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity that then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.

Students, in the course of their formation, must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively. They should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Peter-Hans Kolvenback, SJ, Superior General, Keynote address, October 2000 conference at Santa Clara on Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education

A first rate education, public or private, includes civic responsibility as well as academic preparation. I feel that it is vital that our students have the chance to learn to be citizens and leaders through service that actively engages them in the real problems of our schools and our communities. With the right programs in place, our schools can provide a wonderful opportunity for students to come together and learn the skills that will keep our democracy strong. Dr. Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools

We think institutions of higher education could push a lot further. Becoming a citizen is as much a part of your being a well-prepared adult as learning a trade or building your intellectual capacity. David Eisner, CEO of CNCS

As intangible as community and values are, we can and must take real, tangible steps to cultivate them. For example, right now all Maine schools are engaged in an initiative to instill responsibility and respect in students and staff, nurturing the character, and not just the minds, of our kids. And it goes even further than making our schools safer and more caring. Just as the students of today must be prepared to face the demands of tomorrow’s economy, so too they must be equipped to face the demands of tomorrow’s democracy. Schools and college campuses are rediscovering their role in citizenship education, including through a great idea called service learning – an approach that weaves academic study with real-world problem-solving through community service. We can all join in as mentors, partners and supporters… Angus S. King, Jr., Governor of Maine, State of the State Address in January 22, 2002

We [higher Education] educate a large portion of the citizens who bother to vote, not to mention most of the politicians, journalists and news commentators. We also educate all the school administrators and teachers, who in turn educate everyone at the pre- college level. And we do much to shape the pre-college curriculum through what we require of our college applicants. In short, not only have we helped create the problems that plague American democracy, but we are also in position to begin doing something about them. If higher education doesn’t start giving citizenship and democracy much greater priority, who will? Alexander Astin, in Chronicle of Higher Education, October, 1995

The ends of knowledge are not for the pure pleasure of the mind, not for superiority, profit, fame or power. Higher education should be, has to be for the benefit of life and for the relief of man’s estate. The promise of American Higher Education is to make a democratic society for all citizens, Dr. Ira Harkavy, associate vice president and founding director of the Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania

I once heard a prominent service-learning director say that she couldn't do her job without North Carolina Campus Compact. I agree. The organization does a fantastic job of enabling networking across the state and disseminating the most cutting-edge information about civic engagement and service-learning pedagogy."

-Meredith College