Altruism, Emotional Intelligence, and the Lifelong Colleague Commitment

The story is told of three robins who flew into a yard like fighter pilots, wingtips touching as they landed under a Lilac bush. One bird stayed half-hidden under the bush while the other two hopped up on a bird feeder and began scratching and fluttering, wildly scattering seeds and berries. The bird under the bush was missing one eye and the other eye was covered with a thick, milky film. This robin was blind. The other two robins purposely knocked seeds onto the ground so their handicapped colleague could eat. After the blind bird had her fill, the two lead robins fluttered gently against their sightless companion, chirping endlessly as they guided her to flight, still managing wing-to-wing contact. The kindness and caring shown by these two robins to their afflicted friend well demonstrates the virtue of altruism.

The word altruism comes from the Latin ‘alteri’, meaning “someone else”. Altruism is the principle or practice of unselfish concern or devotion for the welfare of others. Altruism includes being happy for the success of others, even if that same success has not been personally realized. For example, when curricular changes at an institution allow underclassmen to gain experience faster than upperclassmen did, some may cry ‘foul’. But those who practice altruism applaud the opportunities afforded to others even if those same opportunities were previously unavailable. Altruism focuses on the increase of others, not on a decrease of self. When the aim is to focus on the welfare of others, even if at a personal cost, altruism is on full display.

Roseman University of Health Sciences is an institution where the Emotional Intelligence principle of altruism is encouraged and celebrated. Altruism is the substance of connection that holds allied individuals together and is the impetus behind our Lifelong Colleague Commitment – to make every interaction reflect a sincere desire to develop each other to be the best that each can be. At Roseman University, colleagues rally around and show kindness, take care of each other, and then move forward hand-in-hand. Such is life in the Roseman flock.

L. Kris Munk, DDS, MS

Roseman University Associate Dean of Graduate Education