As they say in Hollywood, I would like to thank the academy for this honor and award. Except the Academy I want to thank is the one that Plato and his disciples founded in the groves of Academe, outside of Athens in the 4th century B.C., on sacred land that was once an olive grove—the Academy where Aristotle studied and its successor, which we serve and honor thousands of years later and where 14,000 NYIT students attend.
Celebrating the life of the mind, sharing and creating knowledge, helping to create human capital is a privilege and honor unto itself. And one I am proud to accept and proud to share with my like-minded colleagues at NYIT and in the Academy.
I was reminded reading the Financial Times over the weekend that “thank you” is not a long phrase, and as the writer noted, “But it means so much and is really important to learn how to say it properly.”
Well, I confess I am not the best at saying thank you. I am of the school that believes you should look inward for recognition of your self worth, for pride in what you are doing and its merits. I am also of the school that believes it is better to give than receive. Ultimately, you gain more that way.
Still, it is human to welcome and appreciate true thanks. While I tend to get embarrassed by outward expressions, I humbly accept this great one.
I was startled by the remarkable, overwhelmingly generous postings people made online—thank you—and this virtual wall had the added reward of connecting me with several of my former students, a reminder of what is right about a career in higher education and why I am here. In those postings, you all share in the pride and nobility of what we do and what is NYIT.
I certainly want to thank all of you who are here to share this moment, including my wife Mireille. She surely has sacrificed for NYIT over the years as I have worked as hard as humanly possible for the students, institution, and Academy. I also confess that not all my efforts always resulted in a grade of A. But on the balance, I and NYIT progressed, and that is what I like to think today is most about.
I certainly want to again thank the Board of Trustees for conceiving and organizing this honor and event. And not waiting till I was dead. It is much more fun being here alive. It did occur to me that all the named buildings on our campuses bear names of dead people. Ah, but they all were named when the people were alive. It is a good NYIT tradition shared at many universities, yet one that brings responsibility with it. I look forward to leading this university for years to come and living up to today’s honor.
I want to recognize the faculty, too, of whom I am a proud member. Great universities have great faculties. What we have achieved and are marking today is because of the central work of our faculty and the shared vision our community, working together to accomplish a bright future for NYIT and our global society. Together we are going forward as a model global university, creating “world citizens” with a breath and depth of education across disciplines and cultures that will improve society enable many lives and our institution to prosper.
John Milton back in the 17th century refers in his poem “Allegro” to “towered cities” that please us and “the busy hum of men.” Without a doubt here on Broadway, a global stage, and in our own NYIT campus buildings we feel a vibrant hum. And it’s not just the subway. The hum is a characteristic of our university, and it grows quite loud.
I was fascinated to learn that the “towered” building I first entered in 1977 and we renamed today spent its first 50 years as a hotel. And that Columbus Circle is barely over 100 years old.
It is my hope that our campus here on Broadway and our buildings will welcome guests for decades. That we will help shapes the minds and hearts of all who enter our university and that the “vibrant hum” of students and faculty—their ideas, dreams, creativity, and skills—will continue to resonate around the world. Perhaps abetted by the technology in our name.