A look back at Constitution Week


Happy Sunday to each of you.

October is upon us with its seasonal promise of cooler temperatures, changing landscape and Halloween. It also means Fall Break, a couple of well-earned week days for you and your professors take a step away from the usual class schedule, take stock of the semester and perhaps catch up on projects and assignments.

We just competed Constitution Week at UCO, our part of a national time of emphasis on one of our country’s vital founding documents, the core of our national governmental system. At UCO, the American Democracy Project (ADP) commemorated the week by its continuing emphasis on voter registration. This year’s total are almost twice as much as last year. Voter registration is one of the responsibilities we have as citizens. Actually voting once registered is another. Thank you, ADP.

Applause for Professors Patti Loughlin and Janelle Grellner for their continuing valued leadership of ADP, our institutional commitment to civic engagement, one of the Central Six pathways to what we call “transformative learning” (TL) here at UCO. Our intention is to create a spectrum of learning opportunities for you while you are here, including your firm grasp of your major or discipline. We encourage you to discover the power of learning as one of your most useful and formidable assets when dealing with the challenge of change that will be part of our daily lives. Your ability to learn, re-learn and learn again will serve you well, especially when linked to imagination, creativity and innovation. We will continue to discuss these dimensions of your success toolbox.

Last Friday, again reflecting the themes of Constitution Week, UCO was honored to be the site selected by the federal chief judge, the Honorable Vickie Miles La Grange, and judges of the Western District of Oklahoma for its naturalization ceremony. Our Constitution Hall was filled beyond capacity, and overflow rooms as well, with the aspiring new US citizens and their families.

Over 125 new Americans from 30 countries stood to recite en masse the oath of allegiance. The court clerk read the names of each of the countries from which the new Americans had come. From Burma to Bangladesh, from Mexico, Argentina, China, India and more, each stood and smiled broadly, some waving small American flags. Each had studied diligently, passed the requisite exams, waited many months, often years, for this opportunity. It was a moving moment for all when two recently naturalized citizens rose to speak of their decision, their love of their native cultures and peoples , and their happiness to be Americans, a country that rose to nation hood and greatness on the abilities of those who found their way here. The USA is the global poster for the potential of immigration linked to democracy.

It was a unique and fitting testimony to the foundations of our system during a week designed to focus us on the mission, vision and values of the United States political system. It reminded many of what unites our citizens rather than what may divide them.

As I mentioned last week, President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations last week during the General Debate days at the opening of the 67th annual UNGA session. His “State of the World” comments have been quoted in sound bites, but merit our reading or hearing in their full context. The President spoke to the world’s leaders and heads of state that day, and there were no empty seats. All wanted to hear for themselves what the leader of this dominant global country thought was important to the USA and therefore to the world. During this Constitution Week, it reminds us that the President, as head of state and head of government, is our highest official national government emissary in connecting with the rest of our inter-connected world. I have always found it enlightening and instructive to observe what a preponderant impact the USA has in global affairs.

Bravo to all who made the Asian Moon Festival an overflowing success in the NUC ballroom on Friday night. I think half of Edmond’s families with children were there. It was a spirited and festive occasion thanks to the diligent efforts of so many international students, the Office of International Studies, Student Affairs, the team at the NUC and more. The planning and persistence was apparent and it produced an evening to remember. Bravo!

I wish all of you unbridled success. I believe in you.

Don Betz

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