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  • jrblackburnsmith

Handstands All Around!

Image: Rooster taking his daily constitutional. Yes, that is how he pees.

Have you ever had such a great day that you just wanted to do cartwheels and handstands all day long? Sunday was such a day for many families as we held Commencement at Otterbein University. It was wonderful to see how families turned out to cheer for their graduates. In this era in which some people question the value of a college degree, Sunday was proof of how meaningful those degrees are.

Otterbein graduated its first class --two women, by the way-- in 1857. That is 167 years of graduates changing the world. Otterbein was the first university that admitted women to the same academic program as men and had women faculty from its founding. We enrolled our first Black student before the Civil War. (That student left during their first term because campus was not as welcoming as needed for the student to feel like he belonged, but we kept trying. Our first Black student graduated in 1893.) The university has a history of innovation and living our values.

That is why watching the media coverage of recent college protests and higher ed in general is so discouraging. The media has long portrayed the 50 most elite private universities and the 50 public flagship universities as the universe of higher education. There are over 3,400 public and private, not-for-profit four-year universities in the US and the great majority of us are nothing like what the media portrays. We teach students how to engage with people who are different than they are, people who come from different backgrounds and experiences, to learn from each other. I'm not saying Otterbein gets it right every day because we don't, but I am saying that we try, we acknowledge when we fail, and we keep working. That's worthy of a handstand.

Love: a story of grief and desire is now available as an audiobook! Available on amazon, and wherever audiobooks are sold.

Win a free Kindle edition of Love: a novel of grief and desire: I work with Reader's Favorite on the Kindle book giveaway. If you go to you can sign up for the monthly giveaway. You can scroll through the list of giveaways (over 500 each month) or sort the list by title or author to find Love: a novel of grief and desire and put your name in for this month's drawing. Good luck!

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