This is the last Sunday in October with the promise of daylight savings time less than a week away. Soon we will see dawn earlier, but we will be heading home in the dark by early evening. The proliferation of pumpkins everywhere reminds us that seasonal change is once again here.
This is also the official start to UCO Homecoming Week. As I write this to you, students and staff teams are launching the decoration of campus and community highlighting this year’s theme, “All You Need Is Central!” (Can you hear the Beatles melody?). The events commenced this weekend and continue through next Saturday. I encourage you to be part of this annual celebration of the traditions, history and future of our university. It is a time when alumni and former students return to meet with current students, friends, organization members and teammates from years past. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the ongoing transformation of UCO and to present our plans for the future. So put on your UCO gear, get involved in some of the groups who are producing this multi-faceted celebration, and savor the sense of being a valued member of the Central family.
Today also marks the beginning of the final full week of Campaign 2012. The country has been submerged in political campaigning, ads, claims and counterclaims from hundreds of candidates seeking election or confirmation as incumbents. Literally billions of dollars will have been spent by hopefuls seeking positions from president to local officials throughout our country. Americans, well many but not all Americans, will decide dozens of state questions, states legislators and other officials, the entire US House of Representatives, a third of the Senate and 12 governorships and who will be president for the next four years just one week from this Tuesday. The world has been watching this year’s campaigning in the world’s oldest democracy with focused interest. What happens here impacts others far away as well as across this country.
A key message found in every successful democracy is involvement. At UCO we continually speak of the importance of engagement as essential training and experience for future success as an individual, community, state and country. One of most fundamental expressions of that vital involvement is voting, conscientious voting, on the issues and for the candidates that can best and most selflessly serve the citizens of their communities, state and nation. Be active and involved as the American electorate steps forth to help determine the future.
Recently, former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke in Oklahoma. Mr Gates has served as a Cabinet level secretary for both Republican and Democrat presidents. When asked about the optimum qualifications of those seeking the highest office in the land, he offered this perspective. He believes that the experience and resumes of the past are not the defining characteristics for success as president. For Gates, it is character and temperament that are critical. He is speaking about precepts of leadership and the quality of the person who will face unanticipated challenges, some of the highest magnitude that will eclipse any planning or previous experience, that will frame the possibilities for success. Integrity, trust, the capacity to listen, understand and communicate from a base of leadership and service are all relevant to the elected candidates ability to truly lead and serve. Gates’s counsel is worth remembering as we move deeper into this unprecedented period of challenge and change.
I look forward to seeing you at Homecoming activities throughout the week, at the parade and game on Saturday, and on election night at the planned campus watch party in the Nigh University Center. From several perspectives, history will be written on November 6th. After all ballots are cast for all races and issues, we must emerge as Oklahomans and Americans committed to the seamless transitions of power and authority and to a fair and free society.
May this be a most enlightening and engaged week for you.
I believe in you. You are the change. You will one day guide us through the next phases of our continuing growth and development as a state and a country.