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“A convocation is a time to consider the year ahead of you, a time to ponder the big questions before you begin the onrush of classes, a time to wonder why professors feel the occasional need to wear these billowing robes and funny hats,” Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business, told the 974 members of the Class of 2017 and the University community at Convocation 2013.

In a talk that was at once engaging, inspiring, and funny, Dr. Gibson referred often to the two pieces first year students were asked to read over the summer: the text of Malala Yousafzai’s recent speech to the United Nations, and a chapter from Paulo Freire’s famous work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Yousafzai is the young Pakistani teen shot in the face by the Taliban last year for advocating a basic human right: education for everyone. The Taliban are threatened by education, she argues, because their minds are closed. “But notice the weapons that Malala advocates: not a gun. Rather, a pen, a book. Knowledge. A teacher. And, I will add, your open mind. These are your sources of power. At Fairfield, we want to teach you how to use them,” said Dr. Gibson.

Paolo Freire taught that true learning involves active learning, not just listening to a professor in a classroom. Engaging in active learning at Fairfield isn’t difficult, said Dr. Gibson. “Take Professor Boryczka’s classes in politics, and you’ll find yourself out on a picket line or demonstrating for peace. Take Professor Ebrahim’s accounting class and you’ll find yourself helping people with financial needs fill out their tax returns. Take Professor Keenan’s class and you’ll find yourself thinking of philosophy—and perhaps even yourself—in a new way,” he promised.


Copyright 2014 Donald E. Gibson

Archived with permission from the copyright holder.

Published Citation

Gibson, Donald (2013). The Power of One Pen, One Book, One Teacher, One Mind: A Convocation Speech. Given at Fairfield University’s 2013 Convocation, September 2013.