Friday, September 5, 2008

Groundbreaking Remarks

The following are my remarks from the George Wythe University Groundbreaking ceremony on August 30, 2008.

I again recognize city and county officials, President Ronald Johnson from the LDS Temple presidency, Pastor John Williams from the First Baptist Church, members of the Board of Trustees, supporters of George Wythe University and our newest friends, the citizens of Monticello. I would also like to recognize the event coordinator of this event – Manike Collins.

There is one who is not with us today, and I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for his efforts and sorrow for his absence. There is nothing that Dr. DeMille wanted to do more than to share this moment with his friends.

Thank you for taking the time to join with us for what we sincerely intend to be a great moment in the history of San Juan County. Speaking of history, allow me to share a brief account of another school—in another time.

I quote:
“(Visitors) found [the] premises inadequate, facilities limited, students few in number and poorly prepared, and financial conditions exceedingly discouraging. To make matters worse, there were many, even among the influential men in the community who not only had no confidence in the stability of the new venture, but openly used their influence against it."

“…The [first academic terms] had demonstrated the fact that the strength of the (new institution) was not in her financial condition, nor could her aims be to enter, for the present, into competition with institutions of higher education in our country, nor was her distinguishing characteristic to be sought in the professional [qualification] of her teachers, for all of these advantages have been claimed and enjoyed by schools of learning before (she was created), and yet [there was a] necessity for the establishment of a new kind of educational institution."

Quote continued:
“…All the above-mentioned adversities of the infant institution were blessings in disguise. Without means, [and] by [having] relying upon the liberality of her patrons, (this school) engendered a growing interest among the people . . . Without [traditionally trained] teachers sufficiently devoted to its sacred cause to labor for a mere nominal salary, the Academy was forced to create a… department composed of volunteers, [in essence, the school had] to raise her own teachers; without a board of members experienced in educational affairs, they went through an empirical training in having their attentions turned gradually from the primitive conditions of the beginning to the more complex organization of the school’s further advancement."

“[Thus were] the ever-changing scenes of development which (our institution) has passed through, whether holding forth in one single room under makeshift arrangements or enjoying the benefits of more suitable facilities…”

“If in the midst of all these changing scenes, clouds of discouragement did occasionally darken the horizon of our vision, they were always dispelled by the voice of the spirit whispering: ‘O ye of little faith.’”

These excerpts are from an address delivered on October 16, 1891 by Karl G. Maeser on the occasion of Brigham Young Academy’s first Founder’s Day Exercises.

This is not an uncommon story. Virtually every great institution, business, school, church and country that has ever existed, has experienced a similar beginning. We are no exception.

And just as other great institutions have begun, struggled, developed, expanded and changed the world around them, we too will find our place in the annals of history.

All great dreams have required vision, sacrifice, hard work, perseverance and reliance on a Supreme Being. America was colonized, expanded and developed first on the dream of a new world. Then it was the American Dream that brought millions to her shores. This is the land of Dreams.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

And one of my mentors, Dr. William H. Doughty, if he said it once, he said it a thousand times: "There is no magic is small dreams."

Ours is a 500-year dream. A 500-year vision. Global solutions will emanate from this institution. The small rural city of Monticello will be known around the world as the place where statesmen are built—the place where freedom, virtue, determination and responsibility beats in the heart of each student, mentor and citizen. Graduates will leave the nurturing protection of these mountains and enter society not only prepared to face the world, but equipped to infuse it with a level of leadership and devotion to goodness the has no equal in modern times. Great giants of industry and innovation, paragons of selfless political service, heroes and heroines both domestic and abroad all will live by the code of the pursuit of excellence and claim George Wythe University as their Alma Mater.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to wander the Ancient campus of the College of William and Mary. I stood in awe of 326 year-old buildings and classrooms still in use today. I walked where Thomas Jefferson and other Founders walked and talked and transformed into men. I considered in amazement just what it took to build those facilities and the goodness that has come out of them, not for decades but for centuries.

But that college has served America for more than 300 years only because a group of people conscientiously chose to sacrifice personal benefit for the good of society then and for generations untold. We call this kind of selfless action Public Virtue. And we call those who exercise it Founders, whether it be during the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment or the new age we are now entering. Every age needs its Founders.

But where are the Founders of the 21st Century?

I proclaim to you boldly, that many modern Founders are in this assembly today, as we dedicate—as we consecrate this land to the building of Statesmen. Men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage, who inspire greatness in others and move the cause of liberty.

There are many here today, students, graduates and citizens, who historians of another generation will record as Founders.

The day will come, when thousands of students from all nations of the earth and tens of thousands of visitors will walk these grounds, contemplate the majesty of these buildings, stroll through these neighborhoods and reverence the hallowed halls of this institution, asking themselves: Who were these people that built this campus? Who made this possible? What kind of incredible sacrifices did they make?

Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to George Wythe University!

This university exists for one purpose—to support the colleges. The university leadership consists of a Chancellor and a University President. Their sole administrative purpose is to create a physical and technological environment that sustains the colleges.

This university will over time, support 40 or 50 colleges on various separate campuses. Today, we have two colleges with plans for more, soon to be revealed. It is my honor to introduce to you the new presidents of those colleges:

Dr. Andrew Groft – President of the Cedar City College
Dr. Shane Schulthies – President of the first college on the Monticello Campus.

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