Marvin Meyer: Every academic year, at the Chapman University Opening Convocation, we are pleased and honored to present an Award of Excellence named in honor of Albert Schweitzer. Our campus boasts a plethora of busts, but one bust, I believe, is particularly impressive in its bronze prominence. That is the bust of Albert Schweitzer, the ethicist, philosopher, medical doctor, and musician who did so many things well and devoted himself to a life lived for others. Schweitzer called his ethic “reverence for life,” and when he said “reverence for life,” he meant all life, human, animal, and plant. It is appropriate that we pass by this bust on our campus and pause to reflect on how we may live as ethical people in our world – or, as our university mission statement puts it, how we may live “inquiring, ethical, and productive lives as global citizens.” Ours is a world that all too often manifests irreverence for life; it cries out for life to be revered. Schweitzer wrote, “People are ethical only when life as such is sacred to them, the life of plants and animals as well as the life of their fellow humans, and when they devote themselves helpfully to all life that is in need of help.” For over half a century Albert Schweitzer practiced this ethic as a medical doctor and humanitarian at Lambaréné in Gabon in equatorial Africa.
Marisa Cianciarulo: Social justice, passion for life, passion for helping others. Concern America embodies all of these principles. Since 1972, Concern America has helped thousands of materially poor communities in 15 different countries by training local populations to be the solutions to their own problems. Amazingly, C/A recruits volunteer doctors, engineers, agriculturalists and educators to go and live with the local communities in remote, difficult to access areas of the world for at least 2 years. The specialists live among the local population and share their knowledge and skills with them so that the villagers themselves gain the capacity to continue the work and share it with neighboring communities. Concern stays with the community for anywhere from 8-10 years, so that when they leave, the community is able to continue providing for themselves and training new people to carry on in the future. C/A has field programs in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique and West Africa. The programs they sponsor include education, income generating initiatives, economic development, community health, women’s empowerment, agriculture, and technology development. It is an amazing, inspiring organization headquartered right next door in Santa Ana. I congratulate my good friends Marianne Loewe and Denis Garvey on receiving this award, and I thank them for letting me be part of Concern America.