President's Remarks

Good afternoon.

President Donald R. Eastman IIIEckerd College is honored that distinguished guests from the community are joining us here today. Please join me in welcoming and saying thank-you to:

David Macon, Congressman Bill Young's District Assistant

From City Council:
Herb Polson
Jamie Bennett, who will come up and offer a few words on behalf of Mayor Baker

Let us recognize the best Board of Trustees at any college in any county in any state in this country: The Eckerd College Board of Trustees.

We have many reasons to celebrate today, and at the top of my list are these two members of the Eckerd College community:

This past November, Bill Felice, Professor of Political Science, was named the 2006 Florida Professor of the Year by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the only national program recognizing excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring. Professor Felice has received Eckerd College's John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award and he has been recognized by the students as Professor of the Year and by the faculty as the Robert A. Staub Distinguished Teacher of the Year. At lunch today, Trustees adopted a resolution as one more tribute to Professor Felice. Bill, please stand.

Just yesterday, the newspaper USA Today, published its list of undergraduate students in the 2007 All-USA College Academic First Team, and Eckerd College's own Ashley Rhodes-Courter was in the Top 20. This is our first opportunity to celebrate Ashley, a third year student double majoring in communications and drama with a double minor in political science and psychology. Ashley is a former foster child who lived in 14 placements before being adopted at age 12. The New York Times Magazine published her grand prize winning essay about her adoption day, and she expanded her essay into a memoir that will be published by Simon & Schuster in early 2008. With a passion to tell her story and share hope with other foster children, Ashley has been featured on Montel Williams and other national and local television shows. At Eckerd College, Ashley is a residential advisor, student public relations spokesperson, and speech coach. She spent her 2006 January term in South Africa working with a children's literacy project. Ashley's parents, Phil and Gay Courter of Crystal River, are here with us today. Ashley, Mr. and Mrs. Courter, please stand.

It was Aristotle who first said - in his Metaphysics in the Fourth Century B.C. - "the whole is more than the sum of its parts." So it is with "community." Community is more than a mere collection of individuals. It is their shared expectations, their values, beliefs, and goals. It is the interplay of the connections between and among the individuals that creates a new and larger thing we call community.

It is the Greek letter name of this complex, Iota, that moved me to recall the words of Aristotle. I began to meditate on why the founders of Eckerd College identified the original complexes by Greek letters. We now have eleven complexes so designated. The founders undoubtedly chose this naming system, in those utopian, halcyon days of the early sixties, to remind students that so much knowledge that we hold dear comes from the ancient Greeks - and in doing so to hold high the standard for learning.

As all of you who have taken Western Heritage know, the Greeks invented Western civilization more than 2000 years ago. They invented self-government; they invented the idea of politics - a civic community made up of free individuals. They invented democracy. They invented the writing of history, tragedy, comedy, and most forms of poetry we know today.

The Greeks first asked the fundamental questions of philosophy, such as, "What is justice?" and "How does the good man live his life?" Their ideas about the natural environment and their way of thinking about the natural world formed the basis of science. The tragedies of Sophocles, the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, the systems of logic and the biological inquires of Aristotle, the immortal dialogues of Plato and the politics of Plutarch all shaped our culture in permanent ways.

The Eckerd College residential complexes wear Greek letter names to remind us of our intellectual roots and to challenge each of us to seek the intellectual freedom, creativity, and community that characterized the glory that was Greece in the pre-Christian world and that continues to inspire and form the character of Western civilization today.

The houses of our residential complexes also honor our intellectual, spiritual, and philanthropic heroes. Today, we will name Iota's houses after four such heroes:

Grover Wrenn, Class of '64 and Jay Lukens, Class of '77 - the first Eckerd College alumni to be so honored; Jean Giles Wittner, the longest serving trustee of the College, and her husband Ted Wittner; and Frank and Jo Byars, two of the most significant donors in the College's history.

Today, they join the long line of heroes of Eckerd College whose names are emblazoned on the houses in which our students live, learn, and create community.

Residential life is an indispensable and irreplaceable hallmark of the liberal arts college experience, and Eckerd College alumni identify themselves by their particular halls, houses, and complexes, which make a superb education unforgettable. The architectural form and organization of the original complexes, replicated in Iota's design, have been uniquely successful in shaping two generations of extraordinary men and women whose accomplishments and service to the world have earned the College worldwide recognition.

The Iota Complex is the finest arrangement for collegiate residential life available. Drawing on nearly five decades of experience in building student communities, Eckerd College also reached out to its superb group of consultants and higher education master planners.

Each of the four houses of Iota meets the requirements of LEEDS, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. Thus, window overhangs and high performance window glass coatings enhance the solar energy performance of the buildings, and the high technology roof system provides seamless waterproofing and insulation that reduces both operating and maintenance costs.

Iota Complex also features:

Iota Complex was designed, as were our original complexes, as four buildings to enhance the "smaller communities" of each floor and of each building. Four houses, each with two floors of 18 beds, are connected by interior and exterior common spaces to form what we call "concentric circles of community." The style and the architecture recall the character and scale of the other residence houses and buildings on campus, and the landscaping uses indigenous drought tolerant planting that requires little or no watering. All four buildings are accessible to the handicapped, and the first floor is above the 100-year flood plane.

Perhaps the biggest "gee-whiz" fact about Iota is that, while we studied and planned this building for over two years, we actually built it, from dirt-to-finish, in 295 days. Let me introduce the men and women who built this extraordinary complex ...

Architect of Record

Canerday, Belfsky & Arroyo:
Mr. Charles S. Canerday

Design Architects

Ayers/Saint/Gross: (Eckerd College's Campus Master Planning Firm)
Mr. Charlie Greenland
Mr. Eric Moss
Mr. Hans Graf

Land Design:

Mr. David Taylor, Landscape Architect
Mr. Ron Anderson, Civil Engineer

Contractor - Biltmore Construction:
Mr. Ed Parker
Mr. Travis Parker
Mr. Andrew Mannira
Mr. Ken Williamson

THE MV GROUP
Bill McKenna, Director of Planning, Development and New Construction
Shar McKenna, Associate

The architects and builders could not have executed their work so successful without the support of two offices on our campus:

UNICCO
Mr. Rusty Marcus, Director of Facilities Management

CAMPUS SAFETY
Ms. Sylvia Chillcott, Director of Campus Safety

When the trustees took their first look at Iota at their fall meeting, I accompanied our Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair, George Off, on his tour, which was led by one of the residents. We visited her room, met her roommate and her pet gerbil, toured the mini-community bathrooms, and examined the security features and the common rooms. As our guide was opening the door to the laundry - which has washers and dryers you can click on from your computer in your room - the door bumped into a male student, who was apparently washing all of his clothes at once. Our guide looked back at George and me, unperturbed, and said, "naked guy." Being a trustee of long experience, George said, "Well, let's come back later." Our guide, said, "Good idea," and closed the laundry room door.

Later, George and I saw Naked Guy emerge fully clothed, though wrinkled, from the laundry room - where the washers and dryers are free - as he ambled back to Kappa, where they cost 50 cents per load. I am hopeful that, as you tour Iota, Kappa's dirty laundry has already been done.

And now it my pleasure to introduce to you the best Dean of Students in the land, Jim Annarelli.