Beloit College in Wisconsin may be famous for a lot of things, but its more recent acclaim has come from its annual “Mindset List” that brings into focus, for us old-timers, the view of the world the younger generation possesses. Its measure of the para-meters of experiences of high school seniors as they prepare to enter the world of life, higher education and career has become the subject of numerous articles and coffee-shop discussions.
These are our future leaders, understand. These are the kids whose taxes will be covering our Social Security checks, if we’re lucky. So perhaps it will give us old-timers a bit of assurance to know how this generation’s view of society has been shaped so far. Apparently, it has been shaped, among other things, by “The Simpsons.”
These young people, for the most part, were born in 1989 or 1990. So they’ve never known a time when there wasn’t the World Wide Web or Nintendo, and they weren’t around to see a Berlin Wall or gasoline that cost less than $1 a gallon. The phrases “And that’s the way it is,” or “Here’s Johnny,” “There you go again” and “Where’s the beef?” don’t trigger names and faces to them.
Until this week, they knew nothing about an NBA championship for Boston Celtics — even though they had 16 previously. Pete Rose has always been known for his gambling, not his hustling play. They can’t remember when Gary Larsen was drawing cartoons for “The Far Side.”
They’ve never known a time when smoking was allowed on domestic airline flights. The Hubble telescope has always been orbiting the Earth. The Americans With Disabilities Act has always been law. They have never seen Jim Henson live on television, nor Lucille Ball, nor Johnny Carson.
The only U.S. presidents they’ve known while in office are Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Saturn cars have always been for sale. They’ve always known four major networks on television, not just three.
And around the time when they were born, the editor of the Harvard Law Review said that he might consider running for public office some day. The name was Barack Obama.
Speaking of college students, two Howard Payne University alumni became members of a rather exclusive club this spring.
Dr. Don Newbury, HPU chancellor and a regular Tuesday columnist for the Bulletin, and I were exchanging ruminations and observations with each other recently, and since he hasn’t worked this into his weekly report yet, I’ll use it.
B.H. Carroll Theological Institute in Arlington is a new, cutting edge institution of higher education with which Dr. Newbury is associated, and it recently graduated its second class. Only in its third year, the institute offers classes to part-time students, in person as well as online, and awards graduate degrees as well as certificates for specialized courses. At spring commencement, those two HPU graduates each received master’s degrees, Newbury explained. They are Scott Venable of Denton and Matt Killough of Grand Prairie, who are both full-time staff members of Metroplex area churches.
Newbury said that a few hundred people were in the audience to witness the ceremony. The Singing Men of North Texas provided the music, and the speaker made the journey from Australia to congratulate and inspire the graduates.
It was quite a day in the young life of the institution, and for the graduates, of course. But Killough had to be especially impressed. Venable was on a mission trip in Africa on commencement day, and he couldn’t attend.
Did I fail to mention that Killough and Venable were the only two students in the class? It proved to be a very special day indeed for the one honoree able to attend.
Gene Deason is editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.