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  Students Asked to Make College Years a Search for Truth
  
          HOLLAND -- As Hope College marked the formal
  beginning of its 136th academic year, speaker Marc Baer
  asked the members of the incoming freshman class to consider
  their time at Hope a search for truth.
          "We have high hopes for you, which are not about
  the data and techniques you will learn in the next four
  years on the road to veritas [truth]," said Baer, a
  professor of history at Hope.  "We do not want you to become
  specialists without spirit.  We do not want you to get all
  As and flunk life."
          "And please never think that a degree from Hope is
  merely a passport to privilege," he said.  "Rather, the
  heart and soul of every generation at this college is you,
  the student, asking, 'What's the nature of the world and
  truth, and where do I fit?  How might I do well, but also
  how might I do good?'"
          Baer delivered his talk, "Our Search for Veritas,"
  during the college's Opening Convocation, held on Sunday,
  Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
  Approximately 1,000 people, primarily new students and their
  families, attended the event.
          Fall semester classes at Hope will begin on
  Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 8 a.m.
          Baer offered three suggestions for the freshmen as
  they conduct their search, lessons he said were learned from
  his experiences with students who had come before.
          "First, during the next four years, weigh
  carefully what is true," he said.  "Keep asking yourselves,
  'Is anything true and right?  Is there a truth that has the
  possibility of providing coherence for the whole of life, to
  help me figure out what it means to be just, to be fair?  On
  what basis might I decide which so-called truth is true?'"
          "Second, during the next four years, observe
  carefully those teachers who connect intellect with
  conscience, conviction with action," Baer said.
          "So learn from your professors the values required
  for good scholarship:  patience, tolerance, rigor, fairness,
  precision.  In the classroom, the lab, the library, let's do
  that together, so that the sooner the better, you become
  responsible for your own learning."
          "And third, during the next four years, form
  friendships carefully," Baer said.  "For individuals to
  flourish they need to be a part of a community of
  character."
          "Michelle Clark, an artist, puts it like this:
  'the people I surround myself with on a regular basis--even
  on an irregular basis--are people who in many ways are more
  than I am.  That is absolutely essential, because they
  always cause me to go back and wonder what else I need to
  do.'"
          Baer noted that the students aren't alone in their
  search.  He explained that the "Our" in the title of his
  address was significant, since the college's professors are
  also engaged in the search for truth.  He stressed that the
  professors learn from their students, just as the students
  learn from the professors.
          "One of the things that has kept me and I suspect
  many of my colleagues at Hope is the cooperative
  relationship here between students and professors," he said.
  "While it's true that professors have professional, peer-
  based relationships both off and on campus...I for one have
  grown intellectually and spiritually from students--during
  and outside classes, on committees, through collaborative
  research and through advising."
          "And so to students:  don't underestimate the
  impact you might have on professors as we travel together
  this road to veritas," Baer said.
          "You students need to be teachable, but your
  professors urgently need what you have to offer us," he
  said.  "We value discourse, you value action.  We talk too
  much; you act too fast.  You need to think harder; we need
  to listen more.  You need to take yourselves seriously as
  independent thinkers; we need to laugh at ourselves."
  -30-
  

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