50th Anniversary Events

50th Anniversary Opening Convocation Remarks


Dr. Donald R. Eastman, III, President of Eckerd College | Watch Video

President EastmanWelcome to each of you, and thank you for coming to begin the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Florida Presbyterian, now Eckerd College. We are honored by your presence and participation.

There are so many special guests here tonight that it would take me hours to introduce you all, but let me ask a number of groups to stand and be recognized.

First, I want to recognize the men and women who started the great academic enterprise we love today, who challenged the academic status quo to create a new college with new ideas and a new level of commitment to teaching and mentoring of the highest quality. Founding Faculty and emeritus faculty, please stand so you can be recognized.

Next, would the current Eckerd College faculty please stand and be recognized?

Next, I would like to ask the students of our first class who began their study at Florida Presbyterian in 1960 to stand and remain standing . . .

And now, all Florida Presbyterian and Eckerd alumni, please stand to join them. Let us all recognize the most important result of the work of the College - the alumni of Florida Presbyterian and Eckerd College.

Tonight also marks the beginning of family weekend at Eckerd College. We have with us a special guest, Mrs. Elizabeth Hinson, who was a member of the search committee for the College's first president and is the mother of James Hinson, the first student admitted to Florida Presbyterian College. Would you please stand, Mrs. Hinson?

As most of you know, the Eckerd College student body is perhaps the most geographically diverse in American higher education; in addition to our 1000 adult students from the Tampa Bay area, our 1800 residential students come from fifty states and forty plus countries: Would all current Eckerd College students and their families, who have traveled from across the United States to be here tonight, please stand and be recognized?

And please join me in welcoming a member of my own family for being here tonight, my wife, Christine Eastman.

There is another significant element of our community supporting the College's academic program through the important administrative functions they perform: Will the staff of Eckerd College please stand?

Finally, let me ask the men and women who hold the ultimate responsibility for our collegiate enterprise, who have held and continue to hold so capably the trust of the College for the present and the future, the trustees and emeritus trustees of Eckerd College to stand and be recognized . . .

Eckerd College is a private, independent, national liberal arts college - but we depend heavily on our elected officials and the institutions they represent for support. Will our elected representatives from City, County and State government please stand so we may welcome you?

One of our great supporters from the United States Senate wrote us a letter I want to read to you now:

Dear Dr. Eastman:

As a U.S. Senator, and one who believes that a college education is the passport to a bright and industrious future for our children, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Eckerd College on their 50th Anniversary Opening Convocation.

This accomplishment represents a well-deserved recognition of your hard work, determination, and commitment to educating our future. I celebrate this achievement along with you, and wish you ever brighter success in the years to come.

Again, Happy Birthday!

Bill Nelson

[View the letter]

No one has worked harder to support Eckerd College during my seven years as president than our own member of the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Bill Young. Congressman Young is not only a great supporter and friend of the College, but he is also one of the finest public servants ever to serve in Congress. Here to represent the Congressman today, please welcome Ms. Shirley Miaoulis.

Ms. Miaoulis presents Dr. Eastman with a flag flown over the United States Capitol to honor Eckerd College's 50th anniversary. [View the accompanying letter and certificate]

Thank you, Ms. Miaoulis. Eckerd College is honored by this tribute in our nation's capital.

We are highly honored to have with us tonight the very popular and distinguished mayor of the City of St. Petersburg, the Honorable Rick Baker. Please welcome Mayor Baker.

Please welcome on behalf of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees a man who has been called the ideal of the alumnus, a member of the first class of Florida Presbyterian, the Chairman of our capital campaign and vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees, from Denver, Colorado, Mr. Grover Wrenn . . .

On behalf of the 17,000 alumni of the College, please welcome a member of the class of 1990, who has traveled here today from his home in Boston, Mr. Lindsay Seward, President of the Eckerd College Alumni Association Board. Lindsey . . .

On behalf of the students of Eckerd College, please welcome the president of ECOS, the Eckerd College Organization of Students, an extraordinary young woman from Fort Myers, class of 2008, Ms. Grace Gair.

Our next speaker brings greetings on behalf of the faculty, past and present: No one in the history of the College has had as large a role in establishing and directing the nationally recognized academic program and the superb faculty of this College than its Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty for twenty-nine years, my colleague and friend, Dr. Lloyd Chapin.