students central hall high five

A Vibrant Mission

Written by Matthew Fisher

Words are like sparks. Often they are brief, fleeting, and wasted. But when the wood and kindling are there, they can light up the sky and warm those gathered in the glow. Carved into the philosophical foundation of Hillsdale College are words that serve as the spark for this institution’s pursuit of truth and defense of liberty.

Many universities like Hillsdale began with mission statements articulating the spiritual and moral bases for their founding principles and doctrine. For instance, Harvard University began as a seminary, and its founders cited divine inspiration as their modus operandi. Today the beliefs of Harvard’s founders have been mostly relegated to the back pages of the theology department, leaving the heritage of their institution almost completely abandoned.

Conversely, Hillsdale College’s mission statement has served as a guiding light and cornerstone, as it has adapted with the times and helped expand the reach of our college while remaining true to the core principles of its founders. “Pursuing truth and defending liberty,” a commonly mentioned phrase in classes, over lunch, and in hallways, encapsulates the spirit of Hillsdale.

“The mission of Hillsdale College is meant to ensure students not only see the academic focus of their education but the wholistic value of growing in a community of fellow students and members of faculty,” said politics major Christian Yiu, ’19.

Diversity of opinion and the debate of ideas is encouraged here. The number of varying worldviews is remarkable. But even with these different perspectives, many students still agree on the importance and power of the mission statement.

“To me, Hillsdale has meant the opportunity to learn through conversation, bond through meaningful friendship, and aspire as a young adult leader,” Christian said. “Hillsdale has challenged me beyond what I could ever imagine, from Hillsdale to Washington, D.C., to Oxford University.” He will attend Oxford post-grad.

Along with offering students an education that helps them pursue their dreams, Hillsdale College’s mission helps shape each young adult’s resiliency and individuality in the face of an ever-conformist world. Senior Dan Maisonville can often be found among his peers studying weeknights at A.J.’s Cafe. But despite the shared communal experiences that college offers, Dan believes that Hillsdale and its central tenets have taught him and others individuality.

“The mission is inspiring because it emphasizes the importance of the individual person and the danger of grouping people into societal categories based on race, religion, etc. At Hillsdale, the individual person is celebrated and defended. This is inspiring to me because it reminds me to appreciate the unique aspects of each person and to seek to understand how each individual’s worldview can inform, challenge, or strengthen my own.”

It is the mission statement itself that has established the culture here. Hillsdale College stands out from the competition because it empowers students with educational, philosophical, and spiritual tools to shape their destiny.

“Hillsdale College offers me a degree that I cannot receive at other institutions,” junior Emily Lachmann said. “I am able to incorporate my faith and challenge it through my studies. Hillsdale supplies a forum where faith and study can truly be integrated.”

It has been 174 years since Hillsdale College was founded, and today’s mission statement carries on the legacy of our founders. Just as their values and principles were the spark that lit the way for us, so will the mission statement guide this generation of Hillsdale students as we pave the way and light the path for future Hillsdalians.

LINK TEXT: “Hillsdale College Objectives – H.C. Catalougues – 1944”

LINK TEXT: Hillsdale College Mission Statement

Matthew Fisher

Matthew Fisher is a junior with a major in political science and a minor in journalism. He writes for The Collegian, plays on the College’s basketball team, and is involved in athlete ministries. After college Fisher plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.

Published in April 2019