Assured of Their Condition: – Hillsdale College

Hillsdale’s Generous Friends Who Make it All Happen.

Written by Dietrich Balsbaugh

“Tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths.”

— William Shakespeare, King Lear

As many students at Hillsdale are quick to tell you, Dr. Larry Arnn asks a lot of questions. “What is the good?” or “What is virtue?” are some of his favorite questions, and ones that Hillsdale students should be ready to talk about at the drop of a hat.

But one of Dr. Arnn’s other favorite questions, which doesn’t get as much press, is subtle enough that it might even sound like a verbal tic. Dr. Arnn’s favorite question to ask is, “Why is that?” Hillsdale’s president, while brilliant and learned, is not afraid to wonder at the world and ask why it is this way or that way. He was eating lunch at my table in the dining hall recently and said something remarkable. He said that most colleges receive roughly 20 percent of their income from donations, but Hillsdale receives over 80 percent from generous donations. I was shocked. But then came Dr. Arnn’s ever inquisitive spirit: “Why is that?”

As a young college student, it becomes frightfully easy to lose touch with the rest of the world. You can forget that there is such a thing as children under the age of twelve or people over the age of sixty who want to take part in your life just as much as your classmates and peers do. For this reason, some of the highlights of my Hillsdale experience have been my interactions with the generous donors who have helped to make my education here possible.

The people who go above and beyond to fund Hillsdale students for many years are also invested in knowing what our lives are like and how they can participate. Events like the College’s Center for Constructive Alternatives (CCA) provide an opportunity for Hillsdale’s donors to not only continue the lifelong task of learning about the world, but to also meet the students to whom they are gifting their time and money.

At the most recent CCA, I was invited to eat dinner with two of my donors, Mr. and Mrs. Robert “Bob” and Susan Chenoweth. During the meal, we talked for a short while about the lectures before turning to the subject of my plans after graduating. I mentioned that I was hoping to be a teacher, which prompted our discussion for the remainder of the evening. Mr. Chenoweth used to be a teacher, and he offered helpful tips and insights into the life of a teacher and the type of career that it might bring about. I walked away from the evening encouraged, inspired, and excited to do my homework that night.

More recently I helped the Hillsdale College Women Commissioners host the Charger Derby, a virtual horse racing event meant to raise money for student scholarships. I spent much of the evening manning a table toward the back, where I had the pleasure of interacting with several of the organizers of the event. As the donations began to come in for the evening, their excitement grew exponentially. “This will certainly provide some more scholarships for students!” one Womens Commissioner member said.

It was clear as the night progressed that these people were genuinely interested in providing students with more than just money. They were offering us their hopes for the world as well.

In a world where generational ties are so hard to maintain, Hillsdale College helps to foster those relationships between its students and those donors who provide so much. These ties between old and young are not limited to a monetary value, however; they are formed through education, tradition, and ultimately a desire to care for the world in its becoming. Those who have provided for the College want to meet and talk to the students in order to assure that this world will be well taken care of.

To return to Dr. Arnn’s favorite question, the reason why Hillsdale College and its students are the recipients of so much care is because the culture of our school demands that tradition not be dead, that love carry through the generations, and that this world might build on the love of those who have come before. Lord grant us the strength to carry our responsibility well.

Thank you to all those who give to us students. We love seeing you and meeting you. The bonds formed are those which will last a lifetime.

Dietrich Balsbaugh Dietrich Balsbaugh, ’20, studies English and mathematics. He loves dancing of any kind and playing in any sort of water, particularly if it involves skipping rocks. If you see him on campus, he’s usually talking about fractals, writing, or tossing a frisbee. He doesn’t mind, so be sure to stop and ask him what he’s thinking about.

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