In the first Inaugural Address of The
College of Wooster in 1870, President Willis Lord wrote:
Let the tree of
knowledge be as accessible as God has made the tree of life. The essential
test of citizenship in the commonwealth of science and letters should be
character, mental and moral quality, and attainment, not condition, race,
color or sex.
What he did not say explicitly, but what
is clearly implied by the principle he invokes, is that the tree of
knowledge also must be open to all persons without regard to sexual
orientation. John Plummer was clearly guided by this belief.
American society, like every other I
know, has historical roots of bias and prejudice of many kinds. The College
of Wooster, given our mission, should be a community of learners that models
inclusiveness, and demonstrates to our larger society how people from
diverse backgrounds and identities can draw upon diversity as a source of
strength, inspiration, creativity, and the deep learning that comes from
collaborating with others who see the world from different points of view.
Of course, the College has not always
lived up to these ideals, and does not even now. As an ideal, our goal is
continually to aspire, to struggle, to move closer to its realization.
These aspirations and struggles call for leadership, courage, and
I never had the honor of knowing John
Plummer, but from all I have learned it is clear that he gave much of
himself to help others in this community secure their access to the tree of
knowledge. I am pleased and proud of The College of Wooster for
establishing the John Plummer Memorial Scholarship. With you, I celebrate
all that it signifies.