Hillsdale College officially turned 175 years old yesterday, and members of its community will have an opportunity to celebrate the college’s heritage through Founding Fest this weekend.
This is an important time of celebration for students of the past, present, and future to reflect on the college’s tradition in the pursuit of virtue throughout its history. Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion, or sex. It was the second college in the nation to grant four-year liberal-arts degrees to women. During the Civil War, a higher percentage of Hillsdale students enlisted compared to other colleges. As a prominent force in the abolition of slavery, the college welcomed Frederick Douglass and Edward Everett to speak in the 1860s. In the 1970s, the college began its defense against “encroachments on its independence” and refused to accept federal taxpayer money.
Today, the college shares its values with more than 4.3 million Americans through its monthly speech digest, “Imprimis.” Hillsdale professors and students embrace the tradition of cultivating and preserving moral and intellectual virtues because they know that “strength rejoices in the challenge.”
Few colleges in the country give their students the opportunity to examine America’s founding documents and engage with the principles that turned 13 colonies into one nation under God. Even fewer colleges ask their students to think about the unchanging truths of human existence and what these truths mean for self-government.
This year, in particular, the college has many reasons to celebrate its tradition following the dedication of Christ Chapel — a sacred space for the college’s community to gather and recognize shared beliefs. Hillsdale College continues to be one of the only institutions of higher education that remains true to its founding principles, and it is both an honor and a duty of its community to preserve its tradition throughout the future.
Let this be a time for the community of Hillsdale College to celebrate 175 years of laboring for freedom and embrace the ongoing mission to defend liberty.