John Cawthorne Delivers his Final Lecture to Students
Published: Thursday, May 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Last night John Cawthorne, associate undergraduate dean of the Lynch School of Education (LSOE), better known to those who roam the hallowed halls of Campion as John, delivered his final lecture to a Fulton 511 packed with Lynch School students and non-Lynch students alike.
The event was sponsored by the LSOE Undergraduate Senate. Over 200 students were in attendance.
Cawthorne has been affiliated with Boston College since 1988, when he began in the Lynch School as a researcher. He was a research professor for two years before assuming his current position as dean in 1995.
Robyn Antonucci and Alyssa Rosenfeld, co-presidents of LSOE Senate and both LSOE '11, began the evening by welcoming everyone and thanking the audience for coming. Rosenfeld gave a brief overview of Cawthorne's achievements, including graduating from Harvard and being the former vice president of the Urban League, a civil rights organization dedicated to elevating the standard of living in traditionally underserved urban neighborhoods.
Antonucci then introduced Cawthorne who was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
He began by commenting on the irony of the event being called his final lecture. "This is the final lecture," Cawthorne said. "I've never given a lecture. This means this is the alpha and the omega."
Cawthorne joked that he had initially planned to set his lecture to classic rock songs but decided against it after consulting with his family and media services. He decided he should share what he knows and what he believes. "I thought, ‘What do I know about me and what do I believe?'" he said. "That's what I'm going to share with you tonight."
He said he loved the Lynch School because it is accepting. "In the Lynch School people are asked to join us. No one is an ‘other,'" Cawthorne said.
Cawthorne also discussed the importance of being a moral person and said it has little to do with what church a person attends.
"It's not about what faith you subscribe to or what church you go to," he said. "Morality is about how you treat those around you." He gave the example of a Republican friend of his from college who opposed the end of segregation in the 1960s. "Just because I hated his politics didn't mean I had to hate him," Cawthorne said.
Cawthorne said he knew the importance of goodness. "Just because something's the best doesn't make something good. You could be the best apple in a barrel of rotten apples. The important thing is to be good."
Cawthorne also said he knew that "time is the inexorable march toward freedom." He tied this knowledge to the current strife in North Africa and the Middle East. "I was not saddened Osama bin Laden was killed," Cawthorne said. "But what's going on in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria … that's the important thing to cheer."
Cawthorne told students that the world is not perfect and students should feel some dissonance due to this. How students respond to this dissonance, though, is what is important. "Accept that it's not OK," Cawthorne said. "Then figure out what you can do to change a little piece of the world because if you try to change the world, you'll end up cynical by the time you're 40."