Though the memories are decades old, I still vividly recall my introduction to the American experience.
I came to the United States from Italy as the son of parents who nurtured my love of education and who provided ample opportunities for me to succeed. Still, English was not my first language, and I was on a shoestring budget when I arrived in Maryland to start a Ph.D. program in mathematics. I stepped off the plane feeling excitement but also trepidation as I found myself 4,000 miles and an ocean removed from the life I had known.
For the first time, I was immersed in a community rich with diverse cultures, ethnicities, perspectives and beliefs.
Within the first few months, new possibilities opened to me — a universe I didn’t know existed. I quickly realized that this new world would broaden my own perspective in many wonderful ways.
I had similar feelings 15 years ago when I first arrived at Chapman University. The campus pulsed with a creative vibrancy, and I wanted to contribute my own energy to the grid.
Now, more than ever, Chapman is that vital hub — a source of intellectual, physical, social and spiritual growth.
As we celebrate Chapman’s 160th anniversary, I find myself reflecting on how my journey led me here, as well as the difference our university makes in our community and in the world. As you explore this anniversary issue of Chapman Magazine, I invite you to think about the ways your story connects with and enlivens the Chapman experience.
We have come a long way as an institution from our origins as Hesperian College, founded in Woodland, Calif., on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861. Still, considering that Hesperian welcomed women and students of color when few colleges did, there are innumerable ways that Chapman’s forward momentum continues to reflect a belief in the power of breakthrough ideas as well as a commitment to expanding opportunity.
In the fall issue, you’ll read about how the inclusive leadership example set by university namesake Charles Clarke Chapman inspired a heritage tour of sites where his influence endures. In the early decades of the 20th century, C.C. Chapman made sure our doors were open to Asian Americans and other first-generation immigrants when that was far from the norm.
The exploration of our history also includes a celebration of Chapman’s sports success during the 100 years since the founding of our Department of Athletics. In addition, this issue takes an engaging trip into the treasure trove that is the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special collections and Archives within Chapman’s Leatherby Libraries.
The links between past and present hit home in our “Then & Now” feature comparing photos from the pages of Chapman history with those providing contemporary views of campus life. That spirit of interconnection also runs through the story illuminating the ways our university is infusing historic buildings with new life thanks to a reimagining of our campus as a growing home for collaborative artistic spaces.
Speaking of infusion, important new voices and perspectives continue to elevate the Chapman experience, as you’ll see when you read the stories on new Vice President, Provos tand Chief Academic Officer Norma Bouchard and our first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Reginald Chhen Stewart.
As we welcome these dynamic leaders, who will help shape Chapman’s future, we also feel the weight of profound loss. Our community mourns the passing of 11 influential contributors to the Chapman experience, including visionary philanthropists and trustees Paul Musco and Harry Rinker.
People of vision have always played instrumental roles in Chapman’s progress. You can help us further recognize the energetic contributors to our university’s heritage by submitting nominations for the 160 Faces of Chapman. I look forward to announcing the 160 honorees during the annual State of the University Address in February.
From its notable beginnings in the fertile soil of Northern California, through many challenges and countless changes on the way to becoming a nationally ranked university, Chapman has charted a fascinating journey. All along the way, our university has thrived on a discourse built of diverse perspectives, with that vigorous dialogue continuously expanding and enriching the Chapman experience.
As multilayered and powerful as Chapman’s 160-year journey has been, I’m convinced that the opportunities before us are even more momentous.
Daniele C. Struppa
President, Chapman University