In his book The Crisis, Thomas Paine wrote that "these are the times that try men's souls." His book was published in 1776, the founding year of Hampden-Sydney College. Today the times are equally challenging, and men need the best education possible to live successful and satisfying lives. Hampden-Sydney College has kept to its strong traditions and offers today's students the best in liberal arts education.
Every young man wants to be able to get a good job after graduating from college, and we at Hampden-Sydney maintain that whatever it is you choose to do, a strong liberal arts education is the best preparation for your career. Some colleges stress what they call "career preparation," but that inevitably turns out to be too narrow and confining. The liberal arts prepare you for life by teaching you how to think creatively and critically, how to distinguish between what is important and what is unimportant, how to integrate information in meaningful ways, and how to be able to write and speak clearly and forcefully. This is where young men should be if they want to succeed.
But the liberal arts offer something even more important than the hope of a good job and a secure future. The most important reason for a liberal arts education is that, as Socrates says, "the unexamined life is not worth living." Advocates of the liberal arts will point out that a high-paying job does not, by itself, make one happy. College graduates need to be able to address what Chaim Potok once called the "two o'clock in the morning questions." These are the questions that wake us up in the middle of the night, when we ask ourselves if all that we have done has any meaning. If we cannot answer these questions, no job in the world will be satisfying. Hampden-Sydney College will help its students succeed in life, and it will also help them in their quest for truth and meaning.
These are also the times that try men's souls. Today's men need the best education possible in order to meet the challenges of the contemporary world. We at Hampden-Sydney College are proud to offer the liberal arts education they need.
Interim President and former Provost & Dean of the Faculty