Campus: CSU Stanislaus -- November 02, 2001

Moving "Ground Zero" Experience Inspires President Hughes' Call to "Educate the Heart"

"Education cannot ignore the early-morning wake-up call of September 11. We must learn to educate the heart with the same fervor that we have learned to educate the intellect."
- Dr. Marvalene Hughes, President of CSU Stanislaus

She came, she saw, she contemplated. As the thick dust from the ruins of New York's World Trade Center was hosed off her escort's car, California State University, Stanislaus President Marvalene Hughes determined what she must do to continue the current outpouring of love, patriotism and humanity following terrorist attacks on September 11.

The President's trip to New York in early October was precipitated by an invitation extended by The New York Times to women presidents and chancellors of state universities and colleges. As head of the delegation of 25 education leaders, Dr. Hughes prepared her colleagues to discuss with the Times' decision-makers the contributions of women leaders to the field of leadership, particularly educational leadership.

While the discussion and visit with the Times was quite productive, the President felt that her visit to New York remained unfinished in purpose. She managed to gain special access to the area at "Ground Zero" inaccessible to the public.

Realizing that only a privileged few can witness firsthand the mix of desolation and heroism amid the rubble, the President kept a diary of her observations, entitled "A Post-September 11 Mandate:
Educating the Heart of Americans." Excerpts from it were included in a Turlock Journal article that was published on October 17.

The diary chronicles the anxious experience of getting past layers of police barricades and coming upon the awful and awesome sight of melted steel, heaps of ash and plastic-encased clean-up workers. As her diary shows, Dr. Hughes decided to use her life-altering experience to spark new approaches and perspectives on education.

"I realized that as an educator and a university president, I had one of the most powerful tools in the world at my fingertips. That tool is education," the President wrote.

She hopes that locally and nationally, educators will understand that education must change to respond to the September 11 crises and the oneness of heart that resulted. She hopes to urge educators to integrate the transformed character which unfolded post-September 11. Beyond these changes, the President wrote about the need to adapt "new pedagogical practices, and new ways of knowing and critically thinking about the depth and breadth of teaching and learning."

"The answer lies in whether or not we have the wherewithal to educate the heart so that our humanity transcends all our differences and leads us to daily deeds of kindness, expressions of love and respect, and genuine motivations to help one another - those like us and, especially, those unlike ourselves," she wrote.

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