From the Dean of the Faculty

 COLSchneiterSince the fall of 1991, at least one of my six daughters has been a college student.  My wife and I expected our children to get as much education as they could and we sacrificed to make that possible.  We know that as they have become more educated, they are better prepared to provide for themselves and their families.

Job training and education are not the same thing.  Job training is learning a skill through acquiring information and through practice, with the goal of preparing us to be able to become employed.  But education is more.  Education is the process of broadening our understanding of ourselves, our community, and the world in which we live.  Education enables us to recognize and appreciate what was accessible to us but had remained undiscovered.

Education improves the quality of life regardless of financial success.  It gives us more choices and the flexibility of how we fill our time—in our selection of work, service, and leisure and recreation.  This allows us to control our lives, to make changes when required, and to influence our circumstances. 

The value of education is realized when we begin to question what we are taught, and to challenge its validity and its application to our lives and to the world around us.  This is when we form ideas, opinions, and conclusions that are our own.  This is when we are able to think for ourselves and to defend our beliefs.

Education enables us to seek, recognize, and act on opportunity, and it expands our capacity to serve others.  Intellectual independence is ultimately most valuable when we reach out in service to others.  Education certainly provides greater opportunity for service—because we have more, we can give more.  The awareness and perspective provided by education, the acquired knowledge of places, events, and things, and the resulting intellectual independence form in us the basic characteristics of leadership.  Service to others provides the venue to apply that leadership.

Where the expectation of leadership is approached with thoughtfulness and humility, we may realize the VMI Mission “…to produce educated, honorable men and women, prepared for the varied work of civil life, imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service…”  The personal rewards of education come as we seek to develop habits of service, acquiring our happiness through the service we give to others.

R. Wane Schneiter, Ph.D., P.E.
Deputy Superintendent for Academics and Dean of the Faculty