We are pleased to be able to hold this significant event on our campus. It was not our intention in planning for this day that this forum would give all the answers to the many facets of this complex issue. Rather, we wanted to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all to find answers in the context of a larger, global reality, as well as to inform and encourage constructive, continued dialogue about these vitally important concerns.
We are happy to provide the physical space of our campus and equally delighted to offer a philosophical framework that supports and encourages positive dialogue. It is in this spirit that universities were originally founded. We are meant to be a resource for our community, to civilly discuss matters that affect our lives and our world, and to understand that these kinds of conversations are both integral and ongoing.
First and foremost, we are educators. We are all engaged in a life-long process of learning. In fact, by paying attention and demonstrating an active commitment to the issue of sustainability, each one of us here is an educator with a capacity to educate ourselves, one another, our neighbors and our community with the information we will learn in forums such as this. Through constructive conversations, we not only discover that which unites us, but, together, we can move to act in ways that advance "the common good."
The opportunities and challenges facing our region and world in planning for a sustainable future deserve our collective focus. That is why we are beginning the Marywood University Sustainability Series with this forum. Forthcoming forums hosted by the University will be conducted in the same manner, addressing an array of sustainability issues and endeavoring to educate students and inform the general public through constructive dialogue and meaningful exchange of ideas. We certainly will keep you informed about future forums as details become available.
It's important to recall our regional history at moments such as this. While the coal boom of the 20th century in Northeast Pennsylvania led to prosperity for many, it also left an indelible mark on the region's environment and caused long-term economic disarray from dependence on a single industry.
Marywood was here for the coal miners' daughters in 1915, when this institution was founded. We are here for the nearly 3,500 students who will return to campus next week. We are here, always, for the surrounding community, especially in the midst of important issues that shape its future. Marywood has a proud tradition of excellence, a strong commitment to this region, and a vital mission to educate, empower, and challenge men and women of all backgrounds.
In fact, our University motto speaks to that enduring commitment: Sanctitas, Scientia, Sanitas-Holiness, Knowledge, Health-and we live out this sacred responsibility by striving for integrity in all we do. When we consider the Marcellus Shale issue, we see landowners, local community leaders, industry leaders, state regulators, and federal officials-all of whom are faced with responsibility for balancing an economic opportunity with stewardship of the land for future generations. In a region long used to economic hardship, this is a difficult balancing act to resolve.
How well we respond to the needs of our time will determine how effectively future generations will be positioned to lead, to listen, to respond, and to act. May we open our minds and hearts to one another and learn to live, not just in this moment, but beyond it-conscious that the actions we cultivate today will become the harvest that the next generation will inherit.