by Liz Ackerman
Tiny Monticello College in Monticello, Utah is a lot like the little blue engine that huffed and puffed her way up the big mountain saying, “I think I can, I think I can” all the way. Set on beautiful acreage at the foot of Blue Mountain, this little school has a big mission – to cultivate an education and environment that foster public virtue, moral character and emulate the courage and foresight of the American founding period. Graduates are to come away prepared to guard the principles of liberty.
In spite of many challenges, college president Dr. Shanon Brooks and his growing team of mentors are huffing and puffing to make their goals a reality. The school is committed to stay debt-free, so the campus is being constructed one building at a time. The plan is to raise most the food needed for the school community on the campus and have cottage industries in place to defray part and eventually all of a student's tuition. Unfortunately, Dr. Brooks told me this week that the building process is temporarily stalled because the cost to finish a required waste water project is a daunting $300,000 - $500,000. A large dining hall remains half-finished, pending completion of this project.
There are no dorms on campus yet, and in the past, students have stayed with families in town or (during the summer) in the three rustic (very rustic, to quote Dr. Brooks) cabins on site. Presently, there are only online students but the school is gearing up to begin their first full-time on-campus program starting in April 2016. One of those online courses is a series of three-week Introduction to the Great Books classes, that meet only three times and cost just $75.
I have been following Dr. Books' progress for years, ever since he spoke on the principles of liberty here as part of a nationwide lecture tour. A couple of years ago, two of my children and I visited the campus and took an informal tour. The idea of students working together to help build, feed and maintain their college is so appealing to me. I kept wishing I could have gone to a school like this one. The mixture of intense studying and demanding physical activity seems a perfect antidote to the foolish and even harmful activities that so many college students (surely never me) indulge in. I also am drawn to the idea of preparing a generation ready to defend liberty.
I wish I had very deep pockets so that I could fund this little blue engine and help it in its ascent. So few people know about this amazing group of people that are trying to do so much. Carry on, Monticello College, and one day you will come steaming proudly down the mountain proclaiming,”We thought we could! We thought we could!”