50th Anniversary Events

50th Anniversary Opening Convocation Remarks

The Remarks of Mayor Rick Baker

Mayor of St. Petersburg, FL | Watch Video

Mayor Rick BakerThank you, Dr. Eastman. Good evening. What an exciting and fun night. I can't tell you how honored and thrilled I am to be able to be here and represent the City of St. Petersburg to congratulate and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Eckerd College.

I am an amateur student of history, and I will tell you I have read and studied about the effort that our city entered into a little over 50 years ago to try to enter into a competition to attract and bring Florida Presbyterian, now Eckerd College, to St. Petersburg, and I think they did it for a few reasons:

First a college provides such a cultural center for a city whether it's the writing festivals, or other festivals or other opportunities to have culture brought into this community by the college; it happens all the time. It's a great thing.

A college also brings a certain vibrancy to a city. You look at all the students that are in our city as a result of Eckerd College being here and all the activities that come with that. Just this last week, I was here, Dr. Eastman, for a basketball game, and I was thrilled to be here myself but my 11- and 12-year-old were especially thrilled because not only did they get to be the ball boy and the towel girl for the game, but we won the game as well, so it was a great night for us and for Eckerd College.

And of course a college brings its central role of providing a unique educational opportunity for both people in the city of St. Petersburg but throughout the country and the world that come here to study. I think if our city, if our state, if our country is going to continue to be great, and continue to be strong, we need to have the diversity of educational opportunities, and I think Eckerd College provides a vital role to our city and our country.

I believe those who did this 50 years ago who made that effort were very wise, and I'm thankful for them, and I am thankful for all of you, Dr. Eastman, and everyone else in this room who have made sure that it not only continues, but it thrives. Thank you for inviting me.