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Stanley, North Dakota | "Generosity of Spirit"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

President Whitmore is already well known on campus for quoting poet, playwright and politician Václav Havel, especially the following theme from his writings: "We cannot have community without generosity of spirit." The value the president places on this concept is deeply rooted in his early childhood in an isolated Midwestern town.

"I was born in Seattle, but I grew up in Stanley, North Dakota, a small town of about a thousand people. My family operated the movie theater in town and my brother and I saw lots of movies in the late 1940s through the mid-1950s, as you can imagine -- most of them made in California, by the way. In North Dakota, there was no TV back then ... It was tough country around Stanley. The weather could be 30 degrees below zero. The town was surrounded by farms and cattle ranches. The land was rocky, the wind fierce, but the sky was vast and blue. Growing up there, we learned the mid-western farm work ethic, and the understanding that, in remote, harsh country like that, people have to work together -- pitch in to help each other out. I have held that belief my entire life."

- President Jon Whitmore

North Dakota landscape
An abandoned farmhouse in North Dakota.
Photo: http://celticanamcara.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html