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Benchmarks of Value – February 19, 2014

Hello everybody:

WesternU’s College of Optometry is grouped into four Houses: Galileo, Prentice, Skeffington and Borish – all people famous in basic or vision science. As part of a celebration of Galileo’s 450th birthday (which fell on February 15 but was observed here on February 14, since the 15th was a Saturday), I was invited by Bennett McAllister, OD, head of the House of Galileo, to offer a few remarks about this scientific giant, then cut some birthday cake. I’m a fan of both Galileo and cake, so I was happy to oblige.

As all of you know, Galileo was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher whose observations and theories on a wide array of subjects place him in the pantheon of humankind’s great scientific minds. He is best known for his support of heliocentrism – the notion that the Sun is a fixed body around which the Earth and other planets orbit – and his dedication to improving the telescope, which is the main reason why he’s a hero to so many optometrists.

Yet for all his accomplishments – the breadth and depth of his scientific and technical skills, and his passion for discovery of hard and fast facts – Galileo was, at heart, a dreamer. For who else but a dreamer would have dared imagine a world where so many of the so-called “facts” of the day were not facts at all, but rather the misguided suppositions of those with less inquisitive minds? Who else but a dreamer would become lost in thought while pondering the ocean tides for hours on end, as Galileo did, and reach the conclusion that those tides were caused by forces undiscussed by the learned men of his day? Who else but a dreamer would believe the night sky was home to mysteries far deeper than those visible to the naked eye – mysteries that would surrender their secrets if only a more powerful mechanism to see them could be built?

As I am wont to do, I began to see parallels between the flights of fancy that inspired Galileo’s deepest thoughts, and the dreams so crucial to the founding and continued growth of our University. Indeed, the very opening of this institution 37 years ago was akin to a dream itself, since it had been long feared that osteopathic medicine would never again gain a foothold in California. To have first COMP, and now all of WesternU, thrive as a provider of health care professionals over the ensuing years is a dream fulfilled, albeit one that requires constant real-world work and commitment. It’s also testament to the dreams of our thousands of students, who take crucial steps toward making their own dreams of helping others become reality during their time with us.

Galileo’s birthday reminds all of us that, for whatever hard knowledge and know-how we acquire, one of our enduring gifts is our ability to dream – to picture worlds and ways of doing things that stretch the limits of our imagination, and that challenge us to innovate and inspire. It is in our dreams that we envision a world made better for all – and in our work, bring those dreams ever closer to reality.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at ppumerantz@westernu.edu, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.

My best to you all,