Remarks

Dr. Donald R. Eastman III

GO Pavilion
Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank you for joining us for this very special evening which celebrates the success of Many Experiences, One Spirit: The Campaign for Eckerd College.

You just heard from those who benefit most from the Campaign - our students.

Tonight we honor those generous benefactors without whom the success of this Campaign would not have been possible.

With us this evening are trustees, alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends. There are so many Eckerd College supporters here tonight that I could spend the whole evening introducing each of you, but I want to introduce just one couple whose generosity symbolizes what all of you have contributed: George and Tara Off, who gave us this fabulous venue - please stand so we can thank you for putting a roof over our heads.

At your tables you will find a program to guide you through the evening and also a report on the impact of the Campaign. You will also find, as an expression of our gratitude to you, the gift of a book of drawings by Jeanne Meinke, a member of the Eckerd College community for 45 years. Jeanne has, as you will see, a genius for essences. Jeanne, please stand and let us recognize you for your talent, your generous spirit, and your long service to the College.

In his seminal work, written in 1717, titled "Bonifacius: An Essay Upon the Good," Cotton Mather, one of the great original American Protestant divines, said:

Of all the trees in the garden of God, which is there, that envies not the palm-tree, out of which alone Plutarch tells us, the Babylonians fetched more than three hundred commodities? Or the cocoa-tree, so beneficial to man, that a vessel may be built, and rigged, and freighted and victualled from that alone? To plant such trees of righteousness, and prune them, is the hope of the book now before us.

Helmar [Nielsen] has been a member of our Board for 17 years - that's one third of Eckerd's existence. He and his 41 peers who make up our current, emeritus and honorary Board of Trustees share a vision of greatness for Eckerd College. Their vision and faith and confidence in the Eckerd Community are what germinated the idea of the Campaign, then grew our goal from $75 million to $80 million, and ultimately will establish the roots to nurture Eckerd College for hundreds of years.

Each of you is an important part of Eckerd's future. Through your gifts to the Campaign, you have told us that you, too, believe in an even greater Eckerd College; that you understand the importance of state-of-the-arts programs for Eckerd students and faculty, and for the nation and the world our graduates are committed to serve and improve. You have each, in now strangely formal language of the early 18th century, planted "trees of righteousness."

Because of you …

  • We are building a new Molecular and Life Sciences Center.
  • We are renovating our other four science buildings.
  • We have built this glorious pavilion.
  • We have renovated the Chapel, renamed after Eckerd's favorite soul, Billy Wireman, our second president.
  • We have received the gift that will underwrite the construction of a Center for Ceramic Arts and Sculpture.
  • We have nearly tripled the endowment.
  • We have doubled the number of endowed professorships.
  • And we have dramatically increased support for scholarships and financial aid and support for study abroad.

You have not simply believed in the future of Eckerd College. You have also, in the words of Robert Frost that I used in my inaugural address 10 years ago, "believed the future in."

And in doing so, you have planted Oxford's oaks [which Trustee Helmar Nielsen told us about] and Cotton Mather's palms; you have planted "the trees of righteousness."

Thank you again for being here tonight. Before you go, we have one final message.

Your gifts to this College honor and support the work our faculty do to produce graduates whose education and dedication are making the world a better place: scientists, artists, social workers, teachers, political activists, philanthropists in every sense of that grand old Greek word: Thank you from a grateful college.