President Hennessy, Chairwoman Hume, Dean Pizzo, distinguished faculty, dear friends and students,
Today is the culmination of a journey that began decades ago.
On a warm and beautiful afternoon back in 1982, I brought my freshman son, Victor, to Stanford. I was a proud parent as we strolled down the picturesque Palm Drive toward the Oval. It was a moment I will not forget – my son was receiving a university education, something I could only dream of. And he was doing it at Stanford!
I can still recall, at one point in our walk, stopping for a moment, turning to him and saying: “This is the first time in my life that I feel true envy of your good fortune – to have the opportunity to be a part of this great institution.” It is an opportunity that countless students from all over the world have enjoyed – not only to attend here, but to have their minds and spirits broadened through a rigorous fusing of intellect and imagination. Lives have been enriched here, ennobled with a sense of service. And service is the hallmark of a life well lived.
The elite students of this great university, who become elite leaders, are not content to be moralizing spectators. They are explorers and discoverers searching for, and finding solutions to, the great challenges of our complex world. They know the higher order of the ennobled human spirit, and they measure themselves by that standard.
I hope this spirit permeates Stanford. I know that on this campus I have experienced it firsthand. After seeing Victor off that day, I wandered alone through the campus. At one point I stopped and knelt down to take a photograph of a beautiful western bluebird in the grass. I became so focused on the image of the bird through my viewfinder that only when I turned did I embarrassingly realize that I have blocked the path of dozens of students on their bicycles. But rather than rush me, many of them held their fingers to their lips, letting each other know to stop and remain quiet in an effort not to frighten the bird while I clicked the shutter.
Their smiles overwhelmed me then and will stay in my heart forever. The photograph of the western bluebird has long vanished, but the noble and gracious gesture of those students laid the foundation of my love for Stanford and the eventual project we now celebrate. Today, with the dedication of this building, I am now also a part of this great institution, and for that I am most happy and very honored.