In each new era, a thriving college needs to redefine its mission, both in terms of the challenges and concerns of that era and in terms of the "usable past" that can productively inform contemporary discussion and debate. This is not simply a matter of locating the relevant past, but of considering how to relate ourselves to a past that influences, in ways of which we are often unaware, the kinds of questions we ask and the kinds of answers we find persuasive. In relating ourselves to that past we need to focus upon three key elements that combine to characterize the education that Columbia College provides its students today: intellectual mobility, social mobility, and career mobility. By combining these three elements in a coordinated living and learning environment - intellectual mobility, social mobility, and career mobility - Columbia College preserves, extends, and renews its tradition of preparing students to make informed choices in a world always haunted by its many pasts, but also oriented toward a variety of possible futures. If students have acquired intellectual and social mobility, they will be able to meet the career and lifestyle challenges of a changing world, by adapting acquired modes of expertise and experience to new circumstances, by thinking creatively across differing frames of reference, by making informed value judgments in a heterogeneous social context, and by using the best of the past to guide them toward what is best for the emerging future.
Austin E. Quigley