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Old Main Society Dinner 2005

Utah State University
Evan N. Stevenson Ballroom
Taggart Student Center
31 March 2005
7 P.M.


(President Albrecht spoke following remarks by Lucy Mungai, a second-year student majoring in dairy science. She traveled to Utah State from Kenya , Africa , to study. She is a single parent and mother of a 6-year-old daughter. She volunteers as a Peer Facilitator at the Women's Center/Reentry Student Center. She is the recipient of two scholarships - the Dr. W.C. Swanson Family Foundation Scholarship and the Women's Center Advisory Board Scholarship.)

Thank you, Lucy, for your remarks.

Can you see why I have the greatest job in the world? Lucy, thank you for sharing yourself with all of us - thank you for your willingness to sacrifice so that your daughter and your country can have a brighter future. We have no doubt that some day you will make important contributions to Kenya . We will watch you eagerly for many years to come.

Please help me again thank and acknowledge Lucy, and wish her all our best as she works to complete her dream of a college education.

Lucy's pursuit of her dreams would not have been possible without the generosity of some of you here in this room tonight, who have seen the wisdom in providing scholarships for deserving students at Utah State University .

As Lucy discussed, she was the recipient of two scholarships - the Women's Center Advisory Board Scholarship and the Dr. W.C. Swanson Family Foundation Scholarship. I would like to recognize, and ask to stand, Janet Osborne from the Women's Center Advisory Board and Paul and Sharon Daines, representing the Dr. W.C. Swanson Family Foundation.

Thank you - Janet, and Sharon and Paul - for your insight, compassion and wisdom in providing scholarship support so that Lucy can complete her studies at Utah State . You are making a real difference and we truly appreciate your generosity.

Tonight is a truly special and important occasion for me - as you know, it has been just two short months since I became president of USU. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me and for Joyce. I hope you understand how much we care about this place. Henry Rosovsky once observed how much he enjoyed coming to the Harvard campus in the quiet of the early morning. He described it as an oasis that pleased both the eye and the mind, and provided a refreshing start to each working day. I have those same feelings each morning as I come to this campus.

Although I think my previous years here as dean of the College of HASS and then as provost really did permit me to hit the ground running, the last couple of months have been both interesting and very busy. But that's not a bad thing. I think that we have accomplished a great deal in a very short period of time. Utah State is well positioned and in good health as we approach our 113 th Commencement ceremonies on May 7.

But this is not going to be a state-of-the-university speech, because tonight's events are for the purpose of celebrating you, the members of the Old Main Society. While I was going to suggest that we take the time to stop and smell the roses, because of the winter season we have had, there won't be roses for awhile. The folks in the College of Agriculture who study the weather assure me, however, that Spring will come to Cache Valley .

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to help celebrate with 290 Utah State University employees - faculty, staff and professional employees - who have reached milestones of working at the university between 10 and 45 years. It was a very nice event because - like tonight - it was an occasion to stop and reflect on what a really wonderful place Utah State University is to work and live.

I mentioned to those at the Employee Recognition Luncheon on Monday that we all spend so much of our time and attention focusing on our day-to-day jobs that we forget to look up and appreciate this place and - especially - the people who make Utah State such an extraordinary institution.

We don't remember to say it often enough, but I said it to that group on Monday and I want to say it again to you here tonight, too - you are a wonderful group of people, and I'm grateful to be able to work with you.

When I've had long days, it is always a joy to walk across the Quad, to see students going to classes or hanging out here in the Taggart Student Center - it's a reminder of what we're all doing here at Utah State. One of the themes of Carl Sandburg's autobiography Always the Young Stranger is the renewal of society in each passing generation that is affected by the emergence of young strangers - young people who have the ability to lead their contemporaries in renewing the values that sustain our culture. Those of us blessed to work in the academy have the opportunity to experience that each new semester - a new generation of young strangers, excited to be here, eager to learn, seeking to extend the preparation that will allow them to go out and make a better life for themselves, their families, and their society. It is these young strangers who we are here to serve. We are honored to do so.

We come together tonight to welcome the 27 new members of the Old Main Society, friends and alumni of Utah State whose devotion to their alma mater makes a real difference in the lives of students at USU and of others whose lives are touched by the work that begins right here on University Hill.

We also honor the more than 19-hundred total members of the Old Main Society (1358 living, 560 dead)t who have demonstrated over and over such generosity and dedication to Utah State University 's students and programs. Since The Old Main Society was created in 1967 - to serve as the symbolic cornerstone of the venerable building that lies at the heart of Utah State - Old Main Society members have given - get this - more than $30 million in gifts and endowments, plus much more in planned gifts and pledges.

That is magnificent devotion to your university. Give yourselves a hand!

Your contributions to the work we do here at Utah State are about much more than numbers. Lucy Mungai is one wonderful illustration of how support for the institution translates into opportunities for individuals that are truly life-changing. Let me give you some other illustrations.

The generosity and vision of two prominent Utah families have translated into endowments that fund named chairs. These gifts - both in excess of $1 million - help USU pursue and develop excellence that translates directly into benefits for students who will study with these nationally recognized scholars.

The George S. Eccles Chair was created this winter with a generous gift of $1.5 million - the largest in the history of the College of Business - to honor the late George Eccles, an icon in banking and a longtime friend of the College. The gift will be used to attract some of the best minds in the nation to USU, in the crucial field of capital markets and accurate financial reporting.

The College of Business has received another large gift, and we are pleased to be able to honor its donor here tonight. Professor Vernon Buehler and the Stewart Foundation have given $750-thousand to fund the Vernon M. Buehler Professorship, which will help support and reward outstanding professors in the College of Business . Please help me thank Professor Buehler.

The university's second new endowed chair was created with the help of an initial $1.5 million gift from the Charles E. Redd Foundation. The gift is the cornerstone of a new Religious Studies Program in the History Department. The Redd Chair in Religious Studies will be filled by a nationally recognized scholar in religion, who will help us create a program to study the role of religious faith - all faiths - in the lives of individuals and societies.

The O.C. Tanner Charitable Trust also has joined in the effort, with a $600,000 endowment to expand our library holdings in religious studies. And more than 50 individuals, as well as the Arrington Foundation, have made contributions to a fund that will endow the Leonard Arrington Chair in Mormon History and Culture.

Major gifts from Old Main Society members also are making an extraordinary difference in the physical appearance of the Utah State campus.

Major gifts from Old Main Society members also are making an extraordinary difference in the physical appearance of the Utah State campus, and on our ability to service students and the community. Gifts from our Master of Ceremonies, Jim Laub, and the Watts family continue to enhance our athletic facilities.

The new $12 million recital hall is the first new jewel in an ambitious new artistic collaboration on campus, part of our new School of the Arts. We continue to extend our gratitude to Kathryn Caine Wanlass and Manon Caine Russell. The recital hall they are making possible will be a beautiful facility for teaching, music and theater performances, lectures and other events that will bring together students, faculty and the community.

The gift for the recital hall is the largest private gift ever made to our university. Tonight I am pleased to note that later this year we will be able to announce the second largest gift ever to our institution (Is that enough of a teaser?)

There is not time tonight to talk about all the other important gifts to USU, or all the dreams that the generosity of our friends make possible. But from the Edith Bowen Laboratory School to the new library to Romney Stadium to the new Engineering Building and dozens of other projects - your devotion and generosity to Utah State University are making a huge difference in the lives of students and our fellow citizens, and are helping make dreams come true at USU.

The pebble that is dropped into the pond that is Utah State University , sends ripples outward far beyond Cache Valley . And those ripples make differences large and small that reach not only around the globe, but even into space through USU students' experiments that fly with NASA.

Those of you in this room have dropped some very large pebbles into USU's pond . . . and the ripples that you have created for our students, faculty and the extended family that Utah State University serves have been tidal changes in many cases.

Your generosity, your dedication to USU's dream and the dream of our students - all this work and vision is what makes possible the margin of excellence, the difference between a good public university, and a truly great public land-grant research university.

I can look out across this room tonight and I can check off in my mind the faces of good friends, and the many and varied ways that you are making a very real and tangible difference in the lives of our students and the quality of our university.

You reward our best and brightest with scholarships that recognize their potential, and you make it possible for other students who otherwise could never go to college, to come to Utah State and pursue their dreams and life goals.

Some of you invest in our faculty, to help Utah State University attract and reward and retain some of the best teachers and scholars in the nation.

Others of you see a need for new facilities to help make possible the best of teaching, research, service, and athletic performance, all of these gifts give us opportunities that state resources can't provide.

What I see when I look out across this room are dreams fulfilled - your own dreams for Utah State University , and the dreams of current and future young people who will come to USU from all over to study and grow. What your generosity - both financial and your generosity of spirit - makes possible is the continuation and fulfillment of the dream on which Utah State's Ag College was built in 1888.

It is the original land-grant mission to provide access to education and to knowledge for all citizens.

It is the original land-grant mission to provide access to education and to knowledge for all citizens. Utah State University is still the People's University, but with your help, we are becoming that and more: ever dedicated to academic excellence, to freedom of inquiry and thought, Utah State University continues to raise the bar, to exceed expectations and then to aim higher.

I have never aspired to be a cheerleader, and so I won't conclude with something designed to create a burning sensation in your bosom that you won't be able to discern later this evening if it was caused by something said or something eaten. I have never been impressed that revival meetings have much of a shelf life. So let me conclude, instead, with a statement of reaffirmation of my own commitment to what this university is and what it can become. I know that we will always have our critics. We will make some mistakes along the way. You may read newspaper headlines on occasion that cause you to scratch your heads and wonder aloud what is really going on up on Old Main Hill. However, please be assured that through the days ahead, we will do our very best to make you proud, we will use all of our energies and talents to serve those students who, as young strangers, come to us each new semester. We will strive for excellence in all that we do, and not be satisfied with anything less. We will continue to be excited about challenges and opportunities that are ahead. And we will approach them without great apprehension or fear because you are here to provide the needed support and encouragement. For that, I express my deep personal thanks to each of you. I view it as both an honor and a privilege to be your president. Thank you.

One of the most pleasant tasks of president is to be the one to say a loud "Thank you!" to our friends. And tonight I have the great pleasure of saying thank you to a couple whose devotion to this university is very well known. These people are True Aggies, great and good friends of Utah State who exemplify the values of the university and its extended family.

Please help me welcome to the stage tonight two great friends of USU who truly illustrate the Spirit of Old Main - this year's 2005 and Spirit of Old main Award recipients, Stan and Judith Meyrick.

[The Meyricks join President Albrecht on stage.]


Mesmerized by the simple things in life, Steven Meyrick would watch cloud formations, sunsets and rainbows for hours, and he had a special connection to animals. Though his life was brief and beset with the challenges of disability, Steven made a deep impression on his parents, Stan, a 1959 College of Business graduate, and Judith, a 1962 College of Humanities, Arts and Social Science graduate.

Steven outlived his prognosis but his death at age 21 left a big void in the Meyrick household. Remembering how Steven's special education teachers had made school both fun and instructive for him, Stan and Judith decided to establish a scholarship fund in his name for students who major in special education.

Providing a scholarship felt so good to Stan and Judith that they established a scholarship in memory of Stan's mother, elementary school teacher Agnes South Meyrick. Their most recent scholarship is awarded each year to a business student at the Uintah Basin campus in Roosevelt , Utah .

Stan has made many friends over the years in his meat packing, banking and other business ventures. Judith chose to be an at-home mother to Steven and the couple's three daughters. The couple recently moved to Logan , Utah , after more than four decades of ranching in Spanish Fork.

Education has been a priority for the entire family. The Meyrick's three daughters are graduates of USU.

Stan and Judith Meyrick, for your continued support and generosity, I am please to present you with the 2005 Spirit of Old Main Award.