Paving the Way Toward Progress October 12, 2018, at 3:16 p.m.

To our Jacksonville University Community:

Our collective understanding of “civics” in our nation has been regularly in the news lately. So much is happening in our city, our state, and our country that brings this concept of “the rights and duties of citizens” and “how government works” into sharp relief.

I believe strongly that civics education impacts our life as a vibrant University.

You may already know that most states require completion of a civics course or two in high school. But did you know that only 17 include civics education in their accountability frameworks? Florida is one of those states.

According to the national think tank The Brookings Institute, roughly 63 percent of high school seniors report discussing current events on a weekly basis, but only 24 percent say they take part in debates, discussions, or are otherwise civically engaged. And the remaining 13 percent report never participating in civic roles or politically-related activities.

When high-performing and ambitious high school seniors enter life at Jacksonville University, there are some core qualities we hope to cultivate in their lives: a commitment to academic excellence, time management, kindness, service, creativity, boldness, and persistence are among them. So is citizenship.

That term may remind you of time spent as a safety patrol, school ambassador, or a member of student body government. At Jacksonville University, our belief in global citizenship, civic responsibility, and engagement naturally holds us to a higher standard. We encourage social awareness and welcome diverse perspectives on issues that most matter to students. This is why our Student Government Association (SGA) works to address student issues and coordinate improvements in the student experience. This is also why we established the Student Inclusion Center and together work to develop a supportive, inclusive campus culture. 

Jacksonville University is proud to offer an entryway to a young woman or young man realizing their full potential as a civic-minded citizen. Engaged citizenship is as much a part of our DNA as is excellence, innovation, or fearlessness. As a leader in higher education, it is rewarding to see our students committing to meaningful, civic and political discourse.

Whether through our Public Policy Institute, Philosophy Slam, International Students Association, College Democrats and Republicans, Green Key, or Rotaract, our University encourages logical and intelligent conversations… truly, civil discourse that can help pave the way toward positive change.

Our University has also made an important impact on state and local politics by providing a reliably nonpartisan gathering place for policymakers, community members, students, media, and others. Whether welcoming candidates running for elected office or hosting citywide town hall discussions, we move ahead in the shared mission to shape the future through preparing a new generation of leaders.

Public policy matters. Community service matters. And just as importantly, citizenship matters. Something you’ll often hear on this campus: get involved, be involved, stay involved.

We should all accept the challenge to more deeply reflect on issues facing our nation, state, and city. Observe moments that better inform us as American citizens, like Constitution Week last month and the electoral process next month. Look for ways to celebrate those who had the courage to become community champions, waymakers, and catalysts for progress, like those we will honor during our annual Homecoming and Family Weekend.

Stay involved, Jacksonville University, and know that you are making a difference. You are helping transform a University and all the lives it touches.

With thanks,

Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981