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October 27th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

dennis sanderSAINTS PERSPECTIVE, Dennis Sander Interim SCCC President


This past week we celebrated Constitution Day, which in turn started Constitution Week in the United States.  While this is an annual event, it doesn’t seem to get its due.   Constitution day is normally observed on September 17, because on Sept. 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document that became the cornerstone of the greatest “experiment” in the history of governance in the world.   

The Constitution was a framework created for a set of States with their unique autonomies to be able to act as one when needed to benefit the whole, as defined in its preamble.  The hallowed document was not intended to make the states, the counties, the cities and towns homogeneously and singularly subservient to the federal government.  Had it done so, it would have lost the main ingredient that allowed this republic to evolve into the most enduring beacon of freedom and independence.      

That observation leads me to the point I want to make about the importance of the public trust that Seward County Community College has with the electorate of Seward County.  As national politics clamor with sounds of greater federal influence on its citizens, I believe it is vital that we understand and appreciate our local autonomies, and the power of the local self-determination that we currently possess. As noted in the July 4, 2021 editorial in the Leader-Times, by Dr. Walter Wendler of West Texas A&M University, “as the distance to the seat of government increases, that potential of having cogent, meaningful impact decreases.  Local influence and decision-making empower a free society’s work and worth, and likewise, for a local university.”   Dr. Wendler is obviously referring to the role West Texas A&M plays in the Texas Panhandle, but I would extend the same sentiment to Seward County Community College, as the local college within our region. 

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SCCC’s Board of Trustees are elected by the voters of Seward County.  They have been exemplary stewards of this college over the years, and they continue to be so.  They are in tune to the educational and economic impact that SCCC has not only in Seward County, but indeed the region surrounding Seward County.  They make decisions in the best interest, and to the specific needs, of the people of this locale. 

The people of this locale are uniquely special and deserving of all that our college can provide for them.  I was reminded of this recently when Sr. Rosa Maria of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church stopped me on the street to tell me she was returning to Mexico.  During our brief conversation, she thanked me for helping create a peaceful community.  I believe she was not just referring to me individually, or just the St. Anthony parish, but to Liberal and Southwest Kansas, with its rich citizenry of diverse culture and common decency.  Her comment reminded me of how important it is to understand the duty and obligation that we as citizens of Seward County, of Kansas, and indeed of the United States of America have been entrusted. 

Part of the duty of SCCC to its students and its taxpayers is to endlessly pursue excellence in education.  As Professor Lee Tavis once told my class at the University of Notre Dame, when we were collectively stumped on a question he had posed to the class, ”without the tools, you are nothing but a bunch of do-gooders to whom nobody listens.”  The educators at SCCC strive to teach, and thus provide, its students with the tools to be productive, self-determined, happy, and responsible citizens that make the caring, peaceful community that Sr. Rosa described.  May we as citizens of Seward County employ the civic tools we have been entrusted with and strive to be vigilant and dedicated in our duties and responsibilities to our neighbors, our fellow citizens, and the Constitution that has made this beautiful “experiment” possible for over 200 years.     

EDITOR’S NOTE — Dennis Sander currently serves as interim president of Seward County Community College, in addition to his role as SCCC Vice President of Finance and Operations. He also serves on the board of Southwest Medical Center. 

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