By Judie Wexler May 16, 2019
What a year it’s been!
The launch of our Online Bachelor of Science in Psychology completion degree; two panels at the Bay Area Book Festival led by Sonya Shah and Arisika Razak; Litquake; ACTCM’s Panel on Opioids; Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s that raised $1,400 and awareness for our mental health and acupuncture clinics; CIIS and faculty featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, San Francisco Chronicle, and Scientific American; important scholarship from faculty engaged in research, theoretical work, and applied work; program-sponsored conferences in the School of Consciousness and Transformation; ODI’s Student Ambassadors for Diversity and Inclusion (SADI) workshops, particularly poignant were "Who Says We're Abnormal?" and "Privilege and Me"; the Religion and Ecology Summit hosted by Ecology, Religion, and Spirituality Program and the Planetary Utopias, Capitalist Dystopias: Justice, Nature, and the Liberation of Life, World-Ecology Research Network, hosted by CIIS Department of Anthropology and Social Change; inspiring exhibits through The Arts at CIIS, particulalry E.O. Hoppe and Step in this House; podcasts of recent Public Programs events, two we especially loved: Damon Young and Krista Tippett; Develoment's grants and donations, notably, Michael and Gityjoon Hebel's $20,000 Scholarships for Auroville and The George Sarlo Foundation's $18,000 for Scholarships for CPTR; the retirement of longtime faculty and staff, including Anne Teich, Eahr Joan, and Brant Cortright (more in the next newsletter); the passing of Ralph Metzner, faculty emeritus and former academic dean; and of course CIIS’ 50th anniversary and gala on the 61st floor of the Salesforce Tower.
For me, the culmination of all our work is seeing students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas to the cheers of family, friends, and community. We all recognize the hard work and sacrifice that goes into completing a degree. As graduates’ names and dissertation titles are read, we celebrate the journey that brought everyone to this place and the faculty who provide the support for engagement in challenging and leading edge subject matter.
As we say farewell and congratulations to the 425 people graduating, we are also welcoming them into our community of alumni. We will continue to have opportunities to grow, change, develop, and be together. In a few short months, we greet new students and begin the process again. The same, but different, because we have had time to reflect on what we’ve learned from our graduates and our changing context. Part of the joy of higher education is the constant engagement with new students and the life-long connections with those one teaches.
On behalf of the CIIS community, I thank you for all your wonderful contributions, both personally and academically. You are a part of a long tradition of adventurous students seeking deep learning and ways to impact the world and the people around them. We look forward to hearing about all you do. Please stay in touch.
As your president, I am excited by the ways in which we are exploring new avenues to improve mental health and understand consciousness. In this time of rapid change and stress, higher education has to rethink how we educate and set our goals for success. The big questions CIIS has always asked, are even more important today and require that we consider new lenses as we seek answers.