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For University Convocation, August 29, 2002


Good morning, Faculty, Staff, and Students of Texas A&M International University!  And Senator, it is always a pleasure to welcome you to the campus you did so much to create. Bishop, we are honored that you will share these moments with us.

Today we gather to celebrate an ancient rite, a con-vo-ca-tion, a calling-together, since the Middle Ages a familiar means of marking the beginning of an academic year.   For American universities and for us, this day is one to begin together, as a community, the privilege of working and studying together.  For us, the year past and the year to come will be remembered as times of glorious expansion, welcome change.   The Western Hemispheric Trade Center, the Student Center, and the Fine Arts Center, all open their spaces to us within two years.  Within a few weeks, we will begin construction on the Memorial Garden to be located between the Student Center and Kinesiology building.  And we should break ground early next year for the science building.

All this febrile activity—designing, clearing, building—becomes in a university a physical manifestation of our most essential charge.  For at a university, we are here to examine what we are, as individuals and as a part of the human family, and to design, to construct, and to build the life and the lives we would wish to pursue. 

Winston Churchill once observed that we build buildings that in turn build us.  In this magnificent student center, referred to by Dr. Corti as our university living room, we will build, in relaxed moments and serious ones, in dialogue and in discussion, the relationships so central to university life.   In this building, great voices from our past, inscribed over many doors, join in that dialogue and reflection.  Listen to a few of these voices:

I have a dream.......

both a starting point and an end.

At a university, dreams evolve, grow, and are occasionally displaced by new visions, new hopes.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams...                                         

Eleanor Roosevelt suggests that our dreams determine our fate.

Cada uno es hijo de sus obras.

Each of us is the child of his or her labor.  We are what we do.  And we become what  we are in our work.

Freedom is a chance to be better.   Albert Camus.

A university experience makes us forever restless, building and rebuilding our dreams and spirits.

I was taught that progress was neither swift nor easy.  Marie Curie. 

The highest result of education is tolerance.  Helen Keller. 

Finally, and perhaps most moving, Anne Frank’s proclamation that in spite of  everything, I still believe people are good.

Our task at the university is to build lives.  Let us, this year, with the same care that first funded, and then designed, and then constructed these wonderful buildings, build our minds and hearts, our lives as we would have them. What could be a more blessed task?  Make something of ourselves, together, and do it in the beautiful place.

(Remarks delivered at the University Convocation, August 29, 2002.)