Transcribed Remarks Hopkinsville Satellite Groundbreaking
June 10, 1999
Thank you Senator, and thank you all very much. Thank you. It really is good to be here with this community on this day that is very, very special and does represents a significant step forward in your journey to be in a world class community and its not only important for this community, its also significant for the state because it is a very, very visible and tangible demonstration of our commitment to excellence in the area of providing our citizens with the intellectual capital that its going to take for them to move ahead in the 21st Century. No more noble endeavors could we engage in as a people and I am very, very pleased to be a part of it.
But let me say that what were doing today does not signify an accomplishment, it signifies a commitment, and we have only just begun. Specifically it represents a commitment for the next twenty years and hopefully the legacy of that twenty years will be a people that are forever committed to continuing education, and improving education. And that has not always been the legacy of Kentucky. In fact that would be a departure from our history of the past. Now while that commitment was made on behalf of the people by the General Assembly, with my involvement, until it becomes a commitment of the people, until the people time, after time, after time, through their representatives make more progress along that path only then will it be an accomplishment.
Let me review for you just briefly what that commitment is, and there are many faucets, but perhaps they can be summarized in three. Because the purpose of education in-particularly post secondary education is two fold. One is to pass along to the next generation the accumulated knowledge of the ages and as our society gets more sophisticated that knowledge gets more broad and more detailed, and more specific; and to make our society run our people have to have just such a much higher level of intellectual capital than what was true in the past, it gets exceedingly more difficult with every passing generation. But only when we pass along an increased body of knowledge can we improve as a people. So thats one of the challenges of higher education.
But an equally important challenge is to add to that body of knowledge and primarily or at least our university system plays a major role in adding to that body of knowledge. And so what we have committed to do is to build a great research university capacity at the University of Kentucky, working with the University of Louisville, to do our part to add to that body of knowledge and to use that new knowledge to create a home based, indigenous knowledge based, entrepreneurial growth society. And that is a hundred year into the future commitment. Thats looking a hundred years ahead if we are going to be what we want to be, thats something we have to do. Now we have said that were going to build that capacity in twenty years and that is a momentous challenge but it can be done if were all committed to it. But when we build that capacity in twenty years, it will take another twenty years for that capacity to develop into that indigenous based, knowledge based, economy, and then another twenty years or forty years for that new economy to translate into a better life for our people, so thats a part of our commitment.
But in the more immediate future our commitment is also to make available to all of our citizens a high quality, high level postsecondary education, at the bachelors and the masters degree level for the broad mass of our people. Certainly our traditional aged student has always and will always be an intrical part of that, and that residential experience on a university campus, that concentration of intellectual energy will always be a vital part of our postsecondary experience and our postsecondary establishment. But in this day and age thats not enough. We have to have more we have to have that high quality postsecondary education available to our traditional students in the communities where they live and even more important to our non-traditional students to our people that have already moved in to the era of establishing a family for themselves, establishing a career for themselves, and still know that they need that higher level of education now. Theyve got to pursue it, and they are placed bound, and they cant do the residential experience so we have to have regional extensions in accessible to every home in this Commonwealth must have convenient access to a high quality bachelors and masters degree program, and thats what were talking about here today. Provided by, as someone has already said one of the outstanding universities of this nation, Murray State University. But weve got to have more than that, weve got to have more than that, and let me assure you that the building that we dedicate today or that we break ground on today is certainly not enough to do that job. If we do the job right, if we live up to that commitment, if we really learn to appreciate education then the demand will be such that this building will need to be doubled or its capacity quadrupled or the skies the limit with the population area that you serve so this residential existence here in this community this building is only the beginning. But thats not enough.
Weve also got to have access to education from around the world and we do that by electronic means and so a part of our commitment is to have and were really moving along way towards having the best electronic campus, the best access to high quality electronically transmitted education in the world. Our Commonwealth Virtual University, which will be working with this facility to provide educational opportunities to this community is also a part of it. And of course getting to the even more immediate need and that is to provide the immediate skills that the business world, of this Commonwealth, and this nation needs to be able to function, almost every member of our society needs to have some kind of a occupationally oriented skill that gives them such a detailed and specific knowledge that they can have a value in our society adequate worth enough in the workforce, productivity worth enough to allow them to make a good living, and of course thats our community and technical college system which is also expanding here in this community and in communities all over Kentucky. So thats the commitment that we have made.
The 1998 session of the legislature made a significant commitment towards realizing that commitment but my friends if we are going to really do what we have said we would do we have to do that nine more times. Nine more legislatures have to make that kind of a commitment if were going to realize the obligations that weve made, and I know working with the General Assembly we are going to do that. I want to pause to acknowledge not just Senator Pendleton, Mr. Bruce, and Mr. Adams, and Mike Cherry is going to be new and Bundy is going to be new but theyre going to be just as committed to working with those 138 men and women that have to make that commitment on your behalf and fulfill that commitment. They deserve equal praise and equal credit, and I want to give it to them.
Theres another thing or two that we have to do. One we have to raise the awareness of the value of education, and we are trying to do that through our Education Pays program. But weve got somehow or the other to make sure that every member of our society, particularly our young people understand that in this world, on average, by and large, with few exceptions is the only way to a better life that I think every Kentuckian aspires too. We must increase our appreciation for the value of an education and government cant do that by passing the law. Government needs the support of the people, individual businesses and leaders in the community and I solicit your support in that effort.
And one more thing we have to do to make that dream come true and that is we cant thing small. We have to think BIG. First of all we have to think big as the state of Kentucky, every individual that is involved in this enterprise, every institution involved in this endeavor must commit themselves to work for the benefit of all of Kentucky. Murray States obligation is not just to west Kentucky, it is to ensure that this system works for all of Kentucky. The University of Kentuckys obligation is not to just make sure weve got a high quality campus in Lexington, its to make sure that weve got high quality campuses all over this Commonwealth. We cant think small. And if anything that I can think of that has caused us to be behind in higher education, is that we have always thought small. Weve thought only of ourselves, only of our domain, only of our community, only of our institution and if we are to realize this vision it will only be because we as a society and we as leaders of this society, and we as members of this individual institution in this society learned to think BIG! Not only as big as the state of Kentucky, but as big as the world because we compete every day with people around the world, we have to think globally. That is the challenge that still lays in front of us. So as important as it is that we celebrate today, it is equally important that we leave this place committed to doing what we said we would do two years ago. And if we do that we would have left the children of Kentucky and the grandchildren of Kentucky a legacy that will enable them to live the kind of life that all of us want but only the educated will have.
Yes its good to be with you today and I hope that I will be able to come back here and do more events of this nature in the future.
Thank you all for asking me to be a part of it.