Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post

Set Your Own Sails in Life’s Journey

Notes on Quotes: “Failure is taking the path everyone else does; success is making your own path.” unknown author


Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/03/2010 -- We are taught early in life that, if we conform, we will be accepted and that, if we follow the path of those with prestige, success is assured. Most of us are guilty of this, at least some of the time but there are multiple problems with this philosophy. We each operate in different environments and have different talents and needs. The ones we look up to, the people we see as successful, most likely challenged the status quo and forged their own unique path.

Poet Robert Frost in the poem, The Road Not Taken (1915), advises us to consider the road less traveled. If we are conformists are we fully utilizing our talents, which are different with each individual? Our founding fathers had no interest in America following other nations. For each of us, whether we are an individual, an organization or a nation, the critical question is: will we break from the pack? Will we create a new path that utilizes our talents and creativity within the framework of our mission?

We believe Western Carolina University to be a uniquely worthy example of an organization practicing this philosophy. WCU has made gains using faculty, student and administrative involvement. In 1995 Chancellor John Bardo along with faculty began to focus on raising the bar on academic standards. We became the first state supported university in North Carolina to require all students to have personal computers. Tenured faculty members undergo a post-tenure review process to ensure high standards in teaching, service and research are being met. Administrators are reviewed by faculty to ensure they are meeting high standards. Raising the bar for students, faculty, and administrators insures our academic programs are among the nation’s best.

One of Western Carolina University's unique missions is that Western is an “engaged university” with faculty and students applying the scholarship and resources of the university to assist surrounding communities. In the classroom faculty stress the application of knowledge. Students are expected to become problem solvers and to practice civic engagement and community involvement through internships, service projects, volunteer projects and service learning in courses. An example of this is our American Youth Congress, where faculty and students work with high schools and middle schools to provide a framework students can develop and vote on legislation that young students have prepared.

The rewards of being an engaged university have been substantial. Princeton Review named the WCU School of Business a top location to gain a master’s degree in business. Western earned high marks in the U.S News and World Report rankings, and was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Our students have excelled in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, ranking among the top ten for research proposal acceptance. U. S. News and World Report featured WCU in the Great Schools, Great Prices category. The Carnegie Foundation has given Western national recognition for community engagement and our Pride of the Mountains Marching Band received the 2009 John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Trophy. It was an honor when the Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning received a Top Innovator Award from Campus Technology magazine in the area of technology leadership and innovative technology polices.

In effect, the entire university has been involved in setting the university’s sails and implementing the new way of thinking. On, My Review of WCU, students and alumni rank WCU with a grade of “A” on education quality. Robert Frost says it best, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”

Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor at Western Carolina University. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Notes on Quotes Press Room. Views expressed are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations.

'Notes on Quotes' is a bimonthly column in The Franklin Press in Franklin, North Carolina