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6

W W W . E T O W N . E D U

B U I L D I N G A C O MM U N I T Y, S H A P I N G T H E M E S S A G E

something different to reenergize my batteries. I wanted a smaller college that was really focused on undergraduate education.” And he felt ready to step into a new arena. “Being a president gives you a chance to shape the message and build a commu-nity, which is what I’ve always been interested in.” Just as Elizabethtown’s search committee did due diligence in vetting Strikwerda, he, in turn, did due diligence on Elizabethtown and liked what he learned. He saw Elizabethtown as a school with a

good mix of liberal arts and preprofessional educa-tion, a school with a solid heritage and a commit-ment to making a better world, prudently guided by a strong, but not micromanaging board. He credits President Emeritus Ted Long for building a faculty that he characterizes as “committed to intellectual rigor and excellence” while cognizant of its primary obligation to work with students.

The topics of Strikwerda’s career as a historian have had a distinctly global quality. He wrote “A House Divided: Catholics, Socialists and Flemish Nationalists in Nineteenth-Century Belgium,” co-edited “The Politics of Immigrant Workers: Labor Activism and Migration in the World Economy Since 1830,” and served as an editor for a collec-tion called “Consumers Against Capitalism?”. He’s working on a book about what he calls the “first era of globalization” from 1880 to 1914, and his wife, now a scholar in residence at Elizabethtown, is working on a book about the causes of the French revolution. He hopes to teach a course on how the historical interactions of China, India, Europe and the Middle East have helped form today’s world. “Globalization is just such an overwhelming fact of the contemporary world,” he said. “I think it’s abso-lutely critical to give young people the opportunity to study overseas or at least find out about the rest of the world and rub shoulders with people from other countries.”

He was in Beijing late last year working on a sister relationship between William & Mary and

“Globalization is just such an overwhelming fact of the contemporary world. I think it’s absolutely critical to give young people the opportunity to study overseas or at least find out about the rest of the world and rub shoulders with people from other countries.”

Beijing Normal University. He also helped William & Mary create a joint degree program with the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “I’d be real-ly interested to see if we can do something like that at Elizabethtown College,” he said. He adds that he already is working closely with Michael Mona-han, president of the BCA Study Abroad program, housed at Elizabethtown. “I think there are huge opportunities for us to grow (our) study abroad pro-gram and get as many students as we can overseas.

I think it’s just absolutely critical. I would love to be able to establish ties with more universities in Asia.” Strikwerda notes that educa-tion without values isn’t sufficient, further illustrating why he is such a good match for Elizabethtown; the College always has been about edu-cation in a values context. “Knowl-edge and expertise by itself can be a dangerous thing if it’s not well used,” he said. “You need a sense of values and the importance of human dignity.” He already is conversant and enthusiastic about the work of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pi-etist Studies at the College. In that vein, he speaks approvingly of the “good vision of peacemaking” he has found at Elizabethtown and how important he believes it is to understand how to bridge dif-ferences and find reconciliation between individu-als, between groups and between nations. He feels personally connected to this, in part, because his 28-year-old daughter, Laurna, is working in Wash-ington, D.C., for a group called Search for Com-mon Ground, on a project to build understanding between Muslims and the West. The couple's son, Tim, 20, and a junior at Portland State University, joined Carl on study-abroad programs which Carl directed in Europe and is pursuing the same major as his parents—history.

“I guess, if I see my life in any long-term per-spective,” he said, “it is about how you build a sense of community in a much more cosmopolitan, di-verse world. You have to have dialogues between communities so they don’t become closed but, in fact, are open to other communities of different religious backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds and na-tional backgrounds.”

If that sums up the community-building aspect of the task before Strikwerda, the messaging aspect is simpler. “We need to communicate to the rest of the world just how good E-town is,” he declared.

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Elizabethtown College