September 24, 2010
Good afternoon ladies, gentlemen, and distinguished guests.
I am truly honored to represent the staff of Mount Holyoke College, who are the nuts and the bolts, the stitching to the fabric that binds this great institution together.
I am humbled to speak on behalf of the usually overworked and mostly underappreciated.
I could never have envisioned 38 years ago, setting foot on this campus, bereft of culture, breeding, and not to mention elocution, that I would be standing here today. That just goes to show the promise that this new presidency holds for all of us.
As a retired Air Force reservist for some 22 years, I learned early on in my career that the finest officers and the greatest commanders were the ones that realized that their support staff could make them look very good, or not so very good.
I first met President Pasquerella at her initial community breakfast in November 2009. As she approached me, standing outside of the Great Room in Blanchard, I had an epiphany.
The feeling that immediately came to mind was “messiah.” When I first spoke to her, I said, “You are the messiah that we have been waiting for.” Her response to me was, “That’s a rather lofty expectation,” which it clearly was.
When President Pasquerella was told that I would be speaking on her behalf for the staff, there was some trepidation that I noticed from her.
What could this vivacious individual have to say about me, she must have wondered. In order to assuage her fears, I promised her that by the end of my speech, this audience would be building “shrines and temples in her honor.”
This appeared to calm her momentarily. I did not, however, promise any physical edifices of marble, gold, or other precious substances. These shrines and temples that I promised would be built in the hearts and minds of the people that will come to know her as I do. Plus, the upkeep of any physical structures would be much more cost prohibitive in the long run.
My own mental and emotional Taj Mahal in her honor is nearly complete. Just a very few items are on back order. As all of you begin your own building processes, you will remember my words here today, and realize how truly fortunate I was to get in on the ground floor of this presidency that will be without equal. President Pasquerella, I adore you with the burning intensity of a thousand suns.
(Note: This printed text may vary from the speech delivered.)