University Day Remarks
Sept. 19, 2016, 10:30
LaSells Stewart Center


Thank you, Kate.

Welcome, Beaver Nation, to the beginning of a new academic year!

Today is a time for high hopes and aspirations for all that will occur throughout Oregon State University in the coming months.

It is a day of celebration for the many achievements of our accomplished colleagues.

And a day in which each of us can be proud to be part of Oregon State, an internationally recognized public research university.

I hope that you join me in being honored -- and pleased -- to work on behalf of our students and the people of Oregon and this nation.

This year, we celebrate the “Year of Arts and Sciences”—also known as “SPARK.”

(Note: not an acronym for anything.)

More than 60 events and activities are being planned on campus and around the state to celebrate the intersections between the arts and sciences.

This collaborative effort is supported by the College of Science, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education, the Honors College and the Valley Library.

You’ll hear more about SPARK, and I hope you will participate in these exciting events.

Each day I am awed and inspired by the wonderful work being done by our faculty, staff and students each day.

These creative accomplishments have been a source of pride for many years and were among the first attributes of OSU that caught my attention when I came here more than 13 years ago.

University Day provides an opportunity to come together to express appreciation for the incredible impact that each of you make in your many important roles throughout campus each and every day.

We are all fortunate to be part of this amazing place.

Over the past decade,  a remarkable transformation has occurred within Oregon State University.

In Corvallis, in Bend, in Newport and where Oregon State faculty, staff and students are engaged, you will witness our commitment to excellence in everything we do.

I thank you all for your contributions to Oregon State and the success of our students.

It was wonderful to hear from Carmen Suarez today.

Her words about social justice are insightful and very thought-provoking—especially for those of us committed to creating a community based on inclusive excellence that celebrates our diversity as the surest path to excellence in all that we do.

As caring members of our Oregon State community, we should all be prompted to think about what each of us can do to move OSU forward.

Many of you will recall that last November we had a “speak-out” led by several courageous students.

Let me tell you…that night I felt sad and determined to do better and very proud of our students.

It served as a wake-up call for many of us when it became abundantly clear that the university community we describe in our statements of purpose and values is not matched by the community experienced by many among us.

At that moment, I said that business as usual is not acceptable.

We must re-dedicated ourselves to create an OSU community committed to inclusive excellence and social justice; a community that celebrates and deepens its diversity as the most effective path to the excellence we seek.

Jointly, we are taking specific actions and steps to chart our course for a more socially just and inclusive future.

But I acknowledge that we have a long way to go, and I promise you…we will not stop.

Quite simply, these matters are at the core of all that we hope to accomplish as a university.

Our efforts to provide transformative learning experiences for all students cannot succeed if we do not create a supportive and safe community for everyone here.

We must provide an environment where each of us at OSU can realize our potential for learning and creativity.

I guarantee that we will build on these initiatives and devote additional resources to match my promise at the “speak-out” to address concerns directly, be accountable and not accept business as usual.

We all know that universities are dynamic environments where change is constant.

So I am optimistic that each of us can do our part to make Oregon State University an even better place; a place where, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the content of one’s character is what matters most.

In closing, this work will require us all to build upon the successes of the past dozen years, which are all evidence of a remarkable transformation at OSU.

In doing so, we can help address one of our nation’s most recurring and pressing problems—even if just here in our own Oregon State community.

I can assure you that as we approach our 150th anniversary in 2018, the best is yet to come for Oregon State University.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students, our community and this incredible university each and every day.

Go Beavs!