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Acceptance Remarks

Founders Day
March 8, 2008


Let me begin by adding my congratulations and thanks to those individuals who are being recognized tonight. Each year, Founders Day provides us an occasion to honor some very special friends of Utah State University. This includes some of our most accomplished alumni as well as others who have made and continue to make significant contributions to our university. Selecting those to be honored is always a great challenge because there are so many who are deserving of the recognition we bestow on these few tonight. To our honorees, congratulations, and to all of you, thank you for all you do to make Utah State University such a special place.

Let me also recognize other special guests, including members of our Board of Trustees and Foundation Board. I repeat what I have said on other occasions - we have outstanding Boards made up of individuals who give tirelessly to this university. We simply could not do what we are doing without the leadership and support they so generously provide.

I would also like to recognize our legislators who are with us tonight. We clearly have the best and most supportive group of legislators anywhere in the state. Our big project this year was to secure state funding for the new building we will build where the old Merrill Library stood. In a difficult state funding environment, they clearly came through for us. Now we will go to work with Senator Bennett and his colleagues in Washington since the release of state dollars is triggered by the release of federal funding.

Finally, again, let me recognize our outstanding faculty and students and the work of our senior administrative team. The latter represent the best and most dedicated group of colleagues with whom I have ever had the opportunity to serve. To each one of you, thank you for jobs well done. The effort of this team is well-described by a line from Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake - the will to do, the soul to dare. Each day, they succeed in turning opportunity and promise into outcomes that make a good university ever better.

Last year on this occasion, I had the special opportunity to introduce Ross Peterson as our new Vice President for University Advancement. I am reminded each day of what a great addition he has been to our team. I indicated at the time that this hire would round out our senior team, but we are reminded by recent events that there is never constancy on this front. So, tonight I would like to introduce another new member of that senior management team.

Invite Scott and Jody Barnes to Stand.

Scott comes to us from the University of Washington where he has been serving as Senior Associate Athletics Director. He served previously as Athletics Director at Eastern Washington where he oversaw a program that experienced unparalleled success during his tenure. Please join me in a warm Aggie welcome to Scott and his wife, Jody.

Quite frankly, I am delighted to bring this search to a close. I have learned that there is a great deal more interest in the selection of an athletic director than there is in the selection of a president. Everyone either thinks they are the one for the job, or they know who is. On Monday of this week - which was Dr. Seuss Day - I was invited to read to the 3rd grade class at Edith Bowen School. After completing "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street," I asked the 3rd graders if they had any questions. A hand shot up from a little guy in the back. His question: "what do I have to do to get on the search committee for the new Athletics Director?" True story.

Chisholm's Fourth Corollary states that "if you do something which you are sure will meet with everyone's approval, someone won't like it." With this appointment, I think we will come as close as is possible to doing something that will meet with everyone's approval, particularly as you come to understand the enormous strengths that Scott and Jody will bring to this assignment.

By whatever measure you want to apply, this has been an extraordinary year for Utah State University. And tonight we have the opportunity to celebrate the successes of the year on our 120th anniversary. For all of us, it is a time to renew shared values and hopes and to reaffirm our commitment to a place we love.

Over the 120 years since our founding, we have become a very good university. This year, we have extended the quest to become a truly great one. We have climbed new hills and met new challenges, but as we have reached new summits, we have discovered other horizons that we didn't even know existed before. And, beyond these, there will be yet others that will only become visible to us as we climb even higher. Let me note a few highlights that reflect important progress in that journey:

  • Largest headcount enrollment in our history
  • Significant progress on a number of major capital projects - changing the face of campus
    • Completion of the Living/Learning Community
    • Completion of our new Animal Research and Teaching Center at the South Farm
    • Near completion of our new David Sant Engineering Innovation Building
    • We are nearing completion of the Student Athlete Academic Center
    • We have approval for the BioInnovations Research Institute, our first USTAR Building on the Innovation Campus
    • We now have approval for our new College of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service Building on the quad
    • Beginning of construction of the UBATC/USU Classroom and Industrial Technology Building on our Uintah Basin Campus
    • Receipt of funding for our new Bingham Entrepreneurial and Energy Research Building on our Uintah Basin Campus
    • Planning for an additional education and research building for the College of Education and Human Services, the Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Research Center
  • We have experienced significant increase in research funding. Utah State University's total research awards increased by $9 million this year. We now rank in the top 20 among land-grant universities and in the top 10 non-medical land-grant universities for federal research revenues generated. USU's College of Education and Human Services ranks second in the nation in total research awards, trailing only Teachers College at Columbia.
  • Continued growth and expansion of our regional campuses. Just to give you a quick example, we are adding about 40 new faculty to serve our regional campuses and will be adding 23 new degrees, thus meeting our goal of delivering locally relevant programs that will promote employment opportunities and economic development in these areas.
  • We continue to experience significant progress with USTAR. We have now hired six USTAR research faculty and have three additional searches in progress. As noted, we are well into the planning stages to construct a new state-of-the-art research facility that will house a number of our USTAR research centers.
  • We continue to celebrate significant faculty and student accomplishments. For example, we are now the number one university in the United States when it comes to funding for space research, taking the lead over other prestigious research institutions like Johns Hopkins and MIT. We also were pleased to announce that another USU professor was named Utah's "Carnegie Professor of the Year." Professor Lyle McNeal was selected as USU's eighth Carnegie professor in the last 13 years.
  • This year we also celebrate the 100thanniversary of the establishment of our Extension programs. We have Extension offices in all of the state's counties where we continue to provide educational programs in agriculture, horticulture, 4-H and youth, families and communities, food and nutrition, finance, entrepreneurism, economic development, and natural resources.
  • And, of course, it has been a great year on the athletic front. Among the many highlights was Jaycee Caroll becoming USU's all-time leading scorer in men's basketball, and Stew Morrill becoming our winningest coach ever. We are also proud of the academic accomplishments of our student athletes. We continue to lead the list of All-WAC academic selections, we achieved a 77% graduation success rate, again leading both the WAC and our peer institutions, and our student athletes had a composite 3.05 GPA this last year.

Twelve months ago at our 2007 Founders Day event, we announced Utah State University's first ever comprehensive campaign. Let's take a moment and view a brief video presentation that reflects some of the reasons for doing that.

The announcement of our university's first ever campaign was a bold step. Several in the audience were a bit skeptical at the size of the campaign goal that we announced that evening - a commitment to raise 200 million dollars by December 2010. We knew that we had set a goal that would stretch us, but we were optimistic that we would be able, over the course of the campaign, to reach and surpass that total.

After the announcement here, we embarked on a national rollout of our campaign that took us from cities on the west coast to Washington, D.C., and New York. At each stop along the way we were able to visit with old friends, and make many new ones. And, we were able to experience their excitement about the prospect of joining us in this important effort.

We would like tonight to give you a progress report, and to celebrate with you the wonderful successes that have characterized the first phase of our campaign. These are some of our most significant gifts:

  • We led, of course, with the Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall. The Caine sisters have created for us a world-class venue that serves as the heart of the Caine School of the Arts. Early in the campaign, this vision became an exquisite reality.
  • Bob Williams ushered in a new era for higher education in the Unitah Basin with his $5.3 million land gift. That original gift has now been turned into a $80 million investment in infrastructure for our new Vernal campus. May I invite our guests from the Uintah Basin who have been such an important part of this to stand and receive your recognition.
  • David G. Sant Engineering Innovation Building - this building, made possible by a generous gift from our wonderful friend, David Sant, will provide a venue for our Engineering faculty and students to extend the teaching and research excellence that characterize that school.
  • Marc and Debbie Bingham - this gift will allow us to construct a new entrepreneurship and energy research center at our Uintah Basin campus.
  • Jon M. Huntsman School of Business - this generous gift will allow our Business program truly to achieve world class status. Many of you were here to join us in celebrating that special announcement. I share the following from a letter I received from Jon Huntsman following the event: "the December 3rd event was just magnificent. Never in all my days with great universities, the American Red Cross, the White House, etc., have we attended a luncheon celebration of such class. Everything from the food, to the music, to the video ... was just perfect. I will be forever grateful. This new chapter will be a true Huntsman-USU love affair."
  • Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Research Center - again, a $25 million gift to be used for the construction of an additional education and research building for our world-class College of Education and Human Services.
  • The S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation gift to the College of Natural Resources, celebrating the family's longstanding support of the college and the university.
  • Several significant and timely gifts from Jim and Carol Laub and many others are making the dream of our Student Academic Athlete Center at Romney Stadium a reality. This new center will be the hub of Aggie athletics.
  • Let me share one of many special stories from along the campaign trail (discuss the Powell gift).

Now let me give you an update of where we are in the campaign.

Slide 1 - $200 million, campaign goal Those of you who were here on Founder's Day just one short year ago will remember the ambitious course we set out on - a goal to raise by 2010 $200 million in private support.

Slide 2 - $102.7 million, raised on March 3, 2007 Admittedly, we had a good start, as we launched the public phase of this campaign with gifts and commitments totaling over $102 million. We will be forever grateful to those were the first to step forward in this effort.

Slide 3 - 29,783, donors to the campaign to date One of the accomplishments of this campaign to date of which we are most proud is the number of people who have joined us in this effort. Over 29,000 individuals or families have made gifts to this campaign thus far. This includes gifts of all sizes - from the biggest blockbuster announcements to a small payroll deduction that a hard-working member of our staff carves out each month - because they believe in the power of a Utah State education.

Slide 4 - 11, 475, donors who have made their first-ever gift There is another aspect to the future security the campaign will bring. By connecting with a whole new generation of supporters, we are changing the expectation of what it means to be a Utah State alumnus. Over 11,000 people have made their first gift ever to Utah State during this campaign. I know those of you who have supported the university for many years join with us to welcome these new donors.

Slide 5 - 85 new named endowments One of the common denominators of the most notable universities in America is a robust endowment that provides ongoing support year in and year out. Since we began the campaign we have established 85 new named endowments, including scholarships, fellowships, professorships, program endowments or chairs.

Slide 6 - $100.1 million, given since last March In short, it's been a very good year. We have announced one transformational gift after another. We have done things - with your help - that will propel Utah State to heights we have not yet imagined.

In all honesty, I can tell you that we were hopeful that it would be a good year and a good start to the public phase of the campaign. But in your generosity; your love of and enthusiasm for Utah State University, you have amazed us by what we've accomplished. Thanks to you - and many others - I'm excited to announce that as of today, March 8, 2008 - just 12 months since the launch of the public phase of the campaign ...

Slide 7 - $202.8 million, given so far, ... and counting ... that we have exceeded our initial goal of $200 million ... and we're not turning back!

Please join with me in expressing our sincere gratitude to everyone who has played a role in making all of this possible.

So with the magnificent success that we celebrate tonight, where do we go from here? The answer is simple: we move onward. You will note that many of our gifts have addressed capital and programmatic needs, meaning that these gifts are expendable, rather than going into our endowment. These gifts are building new buildings for our student athletes, for our academic colleges, and for our regional campuses. New programs have been started in the arts, in religious studies, in the Micron Research Center, and in new scholarship support for students from Armenia. These are all wonderful things and they will significantly impact the quality of what we do there.

But what hasn't grown enough is our endowment. So, as we enter the second year of the public phase of our campaign, we will refocus slightly to give renewed attention to growing our endowment. It is earnings from that endowment that allow us to fund scholarships and fellowships for our students, and that support endowed professorships and chairs for our faculty. We still lose too many students for financial reasons. We need to be able to recruit and serve more first generation and minority students, many of whom will be denied a college education if we are unable to provide more need-based aid. We must give greater attention to recruiting those students who are reluctant to believe that a college education is a relevant or achievable option for them. We must build the endowment so that its proceeds can be used to help us attract and retain the very strongest faculty. And we must begin to build a much stronger endowment to support our athletic enterprise. Proceeds from that fund will allow us to better support our coaches, provide additional scholarship support for our student athletes, and continue to address facility needs.

So as we celebrate having reached an incredibly important milestone, we also announce that we will continue moving forward. I don't know what our number will be by December, 2010, but we will look forward to an even greater celebration for new milestones reached.

In Ivan Doig's book, The Sea Runners, there is an interesting line describing the amazing, but unfinished, accomplishments of four men who took on the treacherous task of trying to travel by canoe in the dead of winter from a Russian settlement in Alaska to a Pacific Port in Oregon. Doig describes that accomplishment as "more than possible; less than enough." We have accomplished what some would see as more than possible, but it is still less than enough. We have much work yet to do.

For us to reach those new markers of excellence that are in our future, we must continue to envision new places and then find ways to reach them. Some of these new places will include enhanced global involvement, even greater athletic success, enhanced quality of our academic programs, greater success in meeting the needs of underserved students, and at a cost that is not prohibitive, and expanded involvement in serving our communities, our state, our country, and the world.

I would like to reaffirm my own commitment to seeing through to conclusion some of these important goals that we have set. We will continue to work hard to complete tasks initiated, and to realize commitments made. Together, we can then look forward to many opportunities like this, opportunities to celebrate wonderful new triumphs for Utah State University. Thank You.