Building Moral Character

Dear Hill-Murray Community,

Earlier this week I attended the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership Forum event at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis. The keynote speaker was David Brooks, a columnist, Yale professor and author of several books. The topic for the event was “Navigating the Road to Character,” what does it take to act ethically and how do we support each other in living a moral life. What made the event special from my perspective was that I attended along with six Hill-Murray juniors who are currently taking the “Ethics and Leadership” class with Mrs. Donnelly.  The students appreciated the connection between what they are learning in class and what the keynote speaker had to say.

One of the stories Brook shared was about a hospital janitor named Luke. In the hospital where Luke worked, there was a young man who had gotten into a fight and was in a coma. Every day for the last six months, his father sat by his side holding vigil. One day Luke came in and cleaned the young man’s room as was his regular routine. Later that day Luke ran into the father in the hallway. The father snapped at Luke and accused him of not cleaning his son’s room. Luke’s first instinct was to snap back and say “I did clean his room, you were out back smoking at the time.” Instead, Luke went back and cleaned the young man’s room while the father sat vigil. The moral character lesson is simple but profound. Luke knew he did what he was supposed to do, he cleaned the room. He could have just told the father such and left it at that. Luke gave more. Luke knew the father needed compassion, understanding and kindness. Cleaning the room a second time was a moral act.

It is these kinds of moral behaviors and these kinds of values that we want our young people to know, love and do. Our vision is that when you see goodness, grace and people acting in accord with their true north, the thought would go through your head, “probably a Hill-Murray grad.” Our Hill-Murray Portrait of a Graduate points to a future leader who “acts with humility and considers how their actions affect the world around them.” Wrap this together with compassion, resilience, inquisitiveness and you can see how we are educating and supporting leaders who act morally and faithfully – that’s what Hill-Murray does.

What I love about Hill-Murray is that we are not shy about claiming the values we hold dear, and asking our students to embrace those values both now and in the future.
As you saw from my email to you earlier this week, the Pioneer Premier Auction is coming up on April 29, 2023.  The theme “Hill-Murray,  A School Where Masterpieces are Created,” speaks directly to our mission and vision. The masterpieces are our students, our future leaders, their hopes and dreams. Our masterpieces are the alumni and friends of Hill-Murray and the good work that is being done and the love that is being shared through their connections and commitments.
Quite simply, the masterpiece is God’s creative hand and loving guidance at work in our lives.

Hope to see you at the Auction – it’s always a fun night. Your support is a direct reflection of your commitment to Hill-Murray values, to the kind of education that cares about the moral life and doing good in the world.