theVoice rockfordchamber.com February 2012 15 Rockford College PERSPECTIVE Celebrating 165 years with a focus on the future Preparing students for the changing world Dr. Robert L. Head Rockford College Rockford College celebrates its 165th year in February during its annual Charter Day Convocation on Feb. 29. The formal ceremony is a long-held tradition. Each year we look forward to recognizing the 1847 signing of the college charter. This year holds special significance, as it marks the successful end of Project 165, a yearlong initiative that marked our legacy, helped build awareness of our recent successes and viability, and provided $1.6 million in capital improvements to the 50-year-old campus. This is the first 165th birthday in Rockford, and Rockford College has been proud of its special place as a leader and shaper of the community. Rockford College has been a quiet leader (perhaps too quiet), from our pioneering work in providing education for women and working adults, to our current work in providing leadership training for the likes of District 205, Sundstrand and Woodward; and has remained flexible and progressive. Adapting to a Changing World So much has changed in the past 165 years. In 1847, Rockford was just a village, not yet incorporated. Residents then couldn’t possibly have imagined a world where you would hop into vehicle, plot your course on a screen, be guided by voice to your destination, while simultaneously listening to your favorite satellite station and carrying on a conversation via your Bluetooth device with your brother 2,000 miles away. Similarly, we can’t fathom what life will be like for our great-great grandchildren and their children 165 years from now. A video on YouTube, first shown at a Sony executive conference in 2010, provides startling information about the speed of change to come and a glimpse of challenges we face in preparing for the future. Some of the data shared included: n Of the top 10 currently most sought-after jobs, none existed in 2004. n One in four workers today has been in his or her current job less than one year. n Sony researchers believe that in Shakespeare’s time, there were fewer than 30,000 words in the English language. Today there are roughly 540,000 words in the English language. n The amount of technical information is doubling now every year. n The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that an individual will have 10 to 14 jobs before the age of 38. This brief list highlights the importance of giving our students a strong educational foundation from which they can adapt to our changing world. At Rockford College, ours is an approach that provides a broad-based exposure to the arts and sciences — all grounded in a curriculum that creates leaders and problem solvers. Alumni Have Made a Local Impact The fruits of this comprehensive, flexible approach are evident. We have more than 14,000 current alumni who are exemplary leaders and shapers of the communities in which they live. Advances in science through the creation of the LED and fiber optics have come at the hands of a RC alumnus. The use of ACE inhibitors for the prevention of second heart attacks was discovered by two RC alumni. From the grassroots to the board room, Rockford College alumni have change our world and have been doing so for 165 years. Forty-three percent of alumni live within 30 miles of Rockford and add immeasurable value to our quality of life. Whether native to Rockford or here because of our college, they are teachers, scientists, leaders of industry, caregivers and advocates for those in need. They are our neighbors. A short list includes Brent Johnson, owner of Midwest Aero Support; Jane Nappi Snively, director of Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden; Shelton Kay, director of community services for Crusader Community Health; Dr. Glenn Netto, physician and professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine; Nathan Howard, president of William Charles; John Hegel, president and CEO of Minarik Drives; Julie O’Rourke, senior vice president and chief investment officer for Alpine Bank; Cathy McDermott, administrator of the Rock River Development Partnership and manager of the Downtown Entrepreneur Project, and Mike Broski, president of Entre Computer Solutions. Preparing Graduates for Their Dreams We are pleased that this year’s Charter Day address will be given by alumnus and trustee of the college, Sunil Puri, ’82. Sunil, born in Bombay, India, immigrated to the United States in 1979 to attend Rockford College, where he graduated with a B.S. in accounting. During a recent career day event at the college, Sunil shared with a group of more than 200 local high-school students that he didn’t necessarily understand or agree at the time with his advisors, who said he had to take courses beyond his accounting curriculum to fulfill his liberal arts requirements. He took courses like dance and political science 101, and now looking back with 30 years of experience and hindsight, those extra classes challenged his thinking and further rounded out his educational experiences and had an immeasurable and lasting impact on his many future successes. They no doubt helped prepare him to succeed in ways he had not yet imagined as a graduate in 1982. Far more than teaching our students mere subject matter, we at Rockford College empower and prepare our graduates to accomplish their dreams. We look forward with excitement for all that is yet to come for our students, this college and our region. Robert L. Head, Ph.D., is the 17th president of Rockford College. The views expressed are those of Dr. Head’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.