It's a beautiful day today with the relentless and wonderful San Antonio sun beating down on us outside. But we, of course, are in this beautiful auditorium and in this world class new and wonderful building. Whether working primarily in the new CAB, the Madla building, or at Brooks, we are developing a world class campus – and it is very important that we do so. Our University and, in particular, the "South Side" are very deserving of such a campus. We will surely have challenges, disappointments, bumps and bruises along the way, but we are on the road to "Big Time" – and I'm not just talking size.
I'm talking about style, tradition, integrity, service, commitment, and excellence. I'm talking about powerful academic programs and outstanding student, faculty and staff support – and I’m talking about becoming a Destination University.
I recognize it takes an enormous amount of history to create even a little tradition but let's create it anyway, let's begin it, let's follow through with it. Let's become known as one of the top universities and organizations to work for in San Antonio, Texas, and beyond.
Let's be known for treating each other as colleagues; let's under promise and over deliver; let's have high expectations coupled with high support; let's be quick to hear and slow to speak; let's give each other the benefit of the doubt; let's treat each other and our students as we would like to be treated (we used to call it the golden rule but I'm afraid the gold has been tarnished somewhat today); and let's not mess with Mr. In-Between!
Who is Mr. In-Between? He comes from a very popular song with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer in the 1940s. My mother used to sing this song around our house when I was a young boy and the lyrics and music capture the following concepts. The song is so old school and old fashioned that I just love it!
Accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
Don't mess with Mr. In-Between!
Remember, this song was written during World War II with all of the horrors of death and destruction that occurred during that time.
The message of this song isn't about being Pollyannaish or whitewashing real problems and real challenges. It's not about closing our eyes to suffering and pain or about saying things are great when they are not! It is about seeing things from a clear and clean window. Let me illustrate.
*A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean" she said. "She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."
Her husband looked on, but remained silent – but every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.
About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and so she said to her husband, "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her how?"
The husband quietly and softly said "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows!"
Let's you and I clean our windows as we begin this academic year!
Let's also put into play the concept of "KIGATSUKU" which is an important Japanese word for an inner spirit to act without being told what to do. It really has the added dimension of doing something good without being directed or required.
So let's be Kigatsuku this academic year as well.
I love this new Central Academic Building, the Madla building (that brought a few tears from my staff when we were moving), the Brooks building, and even the Gilettte building (that has many fond memories for many of us and that served us so well.) When the story of this university is told, however, it will not be about the buildings or the beautiful grounds and trees, but it will be about the life, the commitment, the goodness, the energy, the struggle for knowledge and learning, and the power of the students, staff, and faculty. It will be about all of us creating that "big time" university from a plot of ground filled with wild pigs, cows, and horses on the south side of San Antonio. The question to be asked will be, "Did the mile leading to the campus on University Way really become the 'miracle mile' for students?" The only acceptable answer must be a resounding "yes!" – and it will be.
We must keep the vision bright of where we are going and where we have always been-- remembering that "The World is Our Campus Starting on the South Side!" Thank you for help making all of this happen.
There are some sentiments of hope for the future that can be difficult to fully express with words alone, but music helps us when words might fail. So to perform WE ARISE, our Jaguar Student Anthem, please welcome back our wonderful volunteer choir, University Voices. The text is provided in the back of your program. Thank you for sharing this joyous music with us, University Voices.