Good Sunday to each of you,
Another week has flashed by in a flurry of classes, activities and events. Over the past few mornings there has been just a hint of fall as the temperatures and humidity moderate just enough from previous weeks. Leaves are beginning to dot the campus as a prelude to the coming seasonal transition.
And then there are the crickets, and another national news story chronicling the natural challenges many associate with Oklahoma. We are known as a hospitable people, but I believe I am safe in concluding that all will be ready to bid these swarming visitors goodbye.
This week we were delighted to host Lt. Governor Todd Lamb twice in as many days. During his time with you at L in L, Todd spoke about his story, his road to the public service office he now holds. His current position has him traveling almost all the time, crisscrossing Oklahoma promoting economic development and job creation. Both he and Gov. Fallin hold the distinction this year of serving as the chairs of their respective national governors and lieutenant governors associations. Oklahoma has never before enjoyed this spotlight on its state leadership.
Todd clearly believes that the state’s future is built on the quality of its citizens which, in turn, rely on the quality of its education and its leadership. I have mentioned to you that human talent is society’s only truly sustainable resource. Simply stated, the Oklahoma, our nation and the globe invest in securing the future by investing in youth, the citizenry and “leadership-in-training”.
Todd was speaking to you AND about you. We create programs and opportunities to cultivate your and others leadership understanding, appreciation and capabilities precisely because our communities, state and national leadership pool must be consistently replenished with talented, motivated, principled men and women who choose public service as a life pathway. We are investing in you.
Todd focused at L in L on each of you refining yours skills and your ability and passion of learning, leading and serving, and then openly encouraged you to use your knowledge, expertise and passion right here in Oklahoma. He does not mean that you should not seek knowledge, experience and skills in other places. Rather, the message is to focus your collective energies and expertise here in state to help our people and communities grow and prosper. I know that many of you are sorting out what your interests might be, and what major disciplines and careers you might pursue. The message is that as you are about this important process, keep in mind your opportunities as a citizen and leader in the state.
Our 9/11 ceremony Wednesday at Broncho Lake was a moment to remember. My appreciation to all who organized the event, and to everyone who participated in creating this powerful community activity. Lt. Gov. Lamb reminded us of that fateful morning now 12 years behind us. Some of you were in early primary school. It was a profound, disturbing, collective time for our country when the President was deliberately on the move in Air Force One, fears mounted about the possibility of more attacks and a strange silence fell over our skies when for the first time in history there were virtually no planes allowed into American skies. Everyone here and many abroad have stories to relate to generations to come.
Our answer to such assaults is not to hunker down in fear. This is precisely what such enemies would want. Rather, we returned to our work and our lives more resolute to preserve and protect our communities and country and at the same time uphold the freedoms for all that are the unique characteristics of the American system.
Gov. Lamb was truly pleased to spend time with you on both days and appreciated the questions you posed both before the class and in person. You represented yourselves and UCO with distinction.
This has also been a week of global focus on Syria, the USA and Russia as global diplomacy moved in unpredictable ways to address the Syrian civil war, use of chemical weapons on Syrian citizens with the resulting tragic loss of life, and the impending vote in Congress to authorize President Obama to undertake a military response. All of this is swirling in the traditional and social media countless times per day. But from last Monday until today, the result of what Reuters Press Agency in the United Kingdom characterized as “seat of the pants diplomacy”, a coalition of the moment has emerged between the USA and Russia to identify and collect all of Syria’s chemical weapons in an operation still to be determined. There was lightening quick agreement among several parties to proceed, and thereby, at least for now, postpone the Congressional vote and the US military response against Syria.
There are endless details, and an historical, political and sectarian prequel and backdrop to all that you may see or hear about the current circumstances. What should be noted at this point is that circumstances can shift suddenly and mutual strategic interests can bring nations and leaders together in common cause that just days before may have seemed impossible. Leaders from different countries and organizations are making decisions, or not, that are influencing how the world and the USA takes next steps. This issue is broader and larger than Syria and has truly become an international crisis requiring the full measure of attention by the USA and the international community.
There are lessons in leadership all about us every day. Watch this global issue continue to unfold.
I wish you a particularly fruitful week. I am truly pleased that you are members of the UCO community.
My best wishes,