Transcribed Remarks

Postsecondary Education, Northern Kentucky

September 25, 1999


Thank you Chuck.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you all for that warm reception.  Thank you all for the job you have agreed to do.  It’s the most important job in Kentucky.  It’s the greatest responsibility and I have great confidence in you. I guess since I’ve got the floor and no notes up here I can just start rambling, and I want to expound just a little bit on what Chuck said in his introduction.  We’ve got a very varied group here, some people that we have just appointed, this is your first time to hear me, at least make this speech.  Some of you were here.  I may make the same speech I’ve made the last four years, this in fact is my 5th time to speak in front of this group.  The first time was bout this time four years ago when I was a candidate for governor, it was THE most important speech that I made during the entire campaign, and virtually, the only speech I spent a lot of time delivering in a prepared format because I had a clear message I wanted to get across to what I recognized as one of the most influential groups   in Kentucky.  And since then, I have been back as governor and my message is pretty consistent and that is ‘Thank you for the job you have done.’ And how important that it is, and that is what we call Rule 1 in our administration.  Rule 1 is get good people and calm credit for anything they do, and I will say that I have been fortunate to have good people in our administration, and I’m not a bit bashful about claming credit .  I’m an expert at claming credit, so Rule 1 is working very well and that’s where Chuck comes in is Rule 1.  There wasn’t a whole lot of people expecting me to win and I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time putting together an administration up until after the election.  We woke up on Wednesday morning and said, ‘man we have got a job to do.’  And fortunately I think one thing I did recognize is that I couldn’t do it all as Governor for a variety of reasons.  I didn’t have the background, didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the experience running that kind of a massive organization, even if I had those kinds of experiences no person can run your state government.  The best Governor in the world couldn’t make 5% of the decisions that have to be made.  And it’s that other 95% that makes the difference, and so, we determined that rather than passing out these very, very important Cabinet appointments and other key positions in the administration based on people that have supported us politically, and people who might want the prestige  of a major cabinet position, we would  try to find the best people we could identify that were willing to get involved and almost invariable sacrifice to try and contribute some period of time, maybe one year or two years, or four years to making Kentucky better.  And through a long series of process I went to our two largest corporations .  Humana Corporation and Bob Horrar,  their executive talent scout, and Ashland Incorporated, and that was Chuck Whitehead, and he was their individual responsible for searching out and identifying high quality executive talent.  And between those two people and Margaret Green with South Central Bell, we scoured this state and identified 132 people, we cut that down to 40 people, we did, they did, not me an intensive evaluations of 40 individuals , and came up with the recommendations of our cabinet, and I think the cabinet we put together was the beginning of the success of our administration.   And only one person in that cabinet had actively been involved in my election.  Six of them were women, 3 were African Americans, and 5 were REPUBLICANS, I think we carried the Republican thing a little too far, but that, actually we had a pretty good idea of their gender going in, that was pretty obviously, the ethic background we had a pretty good idea about that, but that party registration we had no way, and nobody even thought to even ask about them.  We appointed a new cabinet secretary about 2 weeks ago, and I still haven’t asked about his political affiliation.  That’s not important, but the point being that’s the same approach we have taken to try and make sure that our postsecondary education establishment is run correctly, and that’s to find the very best people that we can, you, and give you the charge to make this thing work.  And that’s your responsibility, it’s not mine.  It’s not my job to make these decisions, it’s your job.  I was talking to a faculty member a few minuets ago, I’m not going to hurt your feelings, here, but, I said when the Council was looking for, and they had complimented me on the fact that I had done a great job and got the right person, Gordon Davies, I said well I didn’t do that the Council did that.  And in fact the Council brought in, I think three candidates, and based on a 30 minuet superficial meeting, Gordon wasn’t my choice.  Sorry ‘bout that, sorry ’bout that, but then I didn’t try to impose my way upon the Council.  My job was to try to let whoever they selected, get a feeling for me, and a feeling for the fact that the top leadership of the state was committed to promoting postsecondary education, and I hope that I transferred that image to all of the three candidates, and the Council made the decision as to which of the three would best serve Kentucky, and Gordon, they made the right decision.  I was wrong, I was wrong as usual so, and that is the same way I expect you all to execute your responsibility .  It is your job to know more about your institution than I know.  If you don’t know more about it than I know, then you’re not doing your job.   And therefore if you know more about it than I do, then you ought to be the one making the decision about it and that’s what I charge to you.  And let me say, as I’ve said, I believe that every person at least that I have appointed to a board sits actually after the first year of our administration.  We’ve been having meetings with each of you as groups to give you a feel of how we view your responsibilities.  We’ve had extensive interviews and we’ve done our very best to give our universities a diverse board that represents Kentucky that represents the various regions of the state, and the various communities of the state and I am very proud of the diversity of our various boards , and we’ve tried to give you the message don’t come to us and ask us what you’re suppose to do, you should know what you’re suppose to do.  And the biggest things that you’re suppose to do is make sure that your institution serves all of Kentucky.

 

While I appreciate the intense loyalty that you have to the particular institutions that you serve and I know the longer that you stay with it the more that loyalty is going to be, and that’s important you need to be committed to that institution,   but more than that you need to be committed to the people of Kentucky, that’s your job.  And each of our institution has a vital, important Indispensable role to play and it’s your ultimate responsibility through the leadership of the institution to make sure that’s what happens, and I think you know what those role are, and I’m not going to get into them I think each of you have studied the Kentucky Higher Education Improvement Act of 1997, I think you know what your individual institution is suppose to do and I think you are committed to doing that.  And my role is to simply be a supporting player.  My role is to somehow or the other get the people of Kentucky to understand how vitally important to our future more than it ever has been that we continued to support ourselves to excellence and access in all levels of education and particularly higher education.  I notice some members of the General Assembly here and I really appreciate that because your role is equal to mine.  The General Assembly is equally responsible and actively involved in trying to promote the welfare of the state and I hope that they are equally understandable of the fact that ultimately the welfare of the state is in your hands and we’ve got to provide the resources and the backings so you can do your job, cause you’re producing the capital of the future.   The intellectual capital of our people is what will determine our success in a new century.  I want you to think back on the history of this country and go back to the 19th century to the beginning of the industrial age and what was capital?  By and large it was physical assets.  It was steel mills and railroads and coalmines.  What were the great fortunes of the 19th century?   Where were they accumulated?  They were accumulated in the basic industries, the natural resources of our nation, combined with the labor of millions of moderately educated, perhaps intelligent, perhaps industrious, but of very, very modest educational level, combining those natural resources with that manual labor and we built up great empires.   Great sources of capital, our financial institutions represented the source of capital and the repository of capital, and when the people wanted to invest they went to the institutions for the source of capital, physical capital, and that extended on into the 20th century, but its changing.  No, it’s not changing it has already changed. It is the intelligible capital that now creates the wealth of our society.  Who is the most wealthy individual in the world as far as I know is Bill Gates, and he doesn’t have huge factories out here that can be evaluated and price people put on them.  He doesn’t have great physical capital, it’s intellectual capital, and just go down and on and on and on.  The great fortunes being accumulated today are the fortunes based on intellectual capital, and it’s our colleges and universities that create intellectual capital.  You can see how dependent we are on your work.  Even as we look at those basic industries that are still important, still vital, got to have’em, but there is more value being added to, still, today through computers and intellectual capital of individuals then is being added by the investment in physically capital.  Increases in profit, in transportation  are being acquired by intellectually using the resources better.  We’re not investing in newer or bigger locomotives, more and longer rail lines, or more freight cars, we’re using what we have more efficiently through computers, through intellectual capital.  We’ve got eighteen wheelers running all over this nation up and down our interstates, and do you know almost everyone of them are direct wired through a satellite to some home office, somewhere?  And there is somebody out there that knows just exactly where that vehicle is, just exactly how fast it’s going, how much fuel it’s got, what the oil temperature is, whether the driver is sleep or not.  It’s the intellectual capital that is causing transportation companies to be profitable!  And it’s only going to be more so in the future.  It’s the intellectual capital of our people, a see change, a paradigm change, whatever that word is.  You no longer go to the bank and get the capital of the future.  It’s no longer instantly available, it must be built slowly, in the minds of our people through our institutions. 

 

Now certainly I have a sustaining responsibility in my position, or anyone who would hold my position.  I have to make sure that our government, our people, really, and through government understand the need for continued investments, and I’m pleased to say that Kentucky is one of the few states that is increasing our commitment to postsecondary education while many other states are trying to figure out how to live through, how to get resources devoted to other purposes.  We’re trying to figure out how to devote more resources to our colleges and universities and our elementary and secondary schools, and folks that’s already where we have spent 67% of our general fund money.  We’re doing pretty good but we need to do more.  And this is the dilemma that we face and where we need your help.  I am extremely pleased at the resources we have been able to devote to postsecondary education during these first four years, we’ve been fortunate that there was a time when there was excess government revenue and we were able to devote the vast majority of it to this cause, but this is coming to an end.  This upcoming session of the General Assembly, for a variety of reasons is going to be very, very difficult, many of the social programs and the pressures continuing to build to improve some of the delivery of social services our need for basic infrastructure in other areas, our needs in the area of the criminal justice system area beginning to build up pressure, and revenue is not growing nearly like it has been in the past and so we’re coming upon the most critical time in the history of our reform movement of these past three years in this next session of the General Assembly, and we need your help.  Some way or the other, and I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but some way or the other we must continue to keep our commitment even while resources appear to be inadequate to do that, and that’s where I’m going to be and that’s where you’re going to be, that’s where many members of the General Assemble are going to be, but that’s where we have to get the people of Kentucky.  They have to understand that whatever it takes that we have to continue this commitment and maintain our momentum and I’m optimistic, but I realize the challenge.   But I’ve got another responsibility and that is to make sure that our people take advantage of the opportunity.  We’re going to make education accessible to every Kentuckian through all of our various institutions, and I’m a big advocate of access, through the Commonwealth Virtual Universities, and through extension campuses and whatever we can do we have to make education available to every Kentuckian, Traditionally and non-traditionally, in their community, we have not make it available upon their schedule to meet their, lifestyle, to meet their family needs, to meet their job needs.  We’re going to do that, and we’re going to make it affordable, and we’re going to do that through scholarships, or whatever, we’re going to make education affordable, and I would submit to you that today almost without exception, excepting young people perhaps that have begun raising a family prematurely, every Kentuckian, every young Kentuckian can go to college right out of high school.  The resources are there to do that and we’ve gotta make sure that there always there and we’ve got to make sure our non-traditional students have the financial means to take advantage of education.  But somebody’s got to motivate them to do it.  No matter how accessible we make education, no matter how affordable we make it free as far as tuition goes, we cannot make it free cause every individual has to devote the time and the effort to absorb an education, it’s not something we can get through osmosis.  It’s not something we can get with an instant transfusion, it’s something we have to absorb over time and that takes a sacrifice on the part of the individual it takes work in real time, and it takes them willing to sacrifice in the short run the themes employment in the workplace will provide for them for them not only to have a higher economic standard of living but a higher quality of life in the future and that’s my job, and your job. And that’s the reason we’re promoting a very simple message that Education Pays, and while to this group that’s obvious, probably in most every person in this group that was a given from the time you were a child, probably most people in this group were fortunate enough to be raised in a family that understood that and fortunate enough to be indoctrinated from a very early age that you’re gonna go to college, but folks that is not the case with the majority of our young people.  In fact we in Kentucky have an under appreciation of the value of education and we have to overcome that.  We have to overcome that, it doesn’t matter how much resources we apply to it, it doesn’t matter how accessible, it doesn’t matter how affordable, if we can’t get our people to understand that they still have to sacrifice to absorb an education, we will not succeed, and that is my job, but it’s also your job.  It’s your job in your various communities, and there’s something else that we need to work on, and we need your help also, and that’s to get our people who have done well to help support our educational institutions particularly in our postsecondary institutions through philanthropy another area where we in Kentucky are woefully lacking.  In most states where higher education is held in high esteem, and the institutions are located that we aspire to emulate, they have great endowments.  Over time wealthy people have understood the importance of contributing back to society and have appreciated what their institutions or an institution that they’re familiar with has done for themselves, individually, or society as a whole and have returned that generosity by sharing some of their accumulated wealth.  While we have many people like that in Kentucky, we don’t have enough.   We don’t have enough for our endowments in our institutions, we don’t have enough of this history of philanthropy towards education and we need to work on that.  And you as trustees need to work on that.  You need to be out in your community making speeches about your institution, you need to be providing leadership in your community, you need to be taking this message to the young people in your community that they need to get educated, you need to take it to the people who have done well in our society that they need to get involved because folks government cannot do it all.  In any arena government cannot build the kind of society we want.  Now I’m a BIG proponent of government, government is not the problem.  Government is the vehicle we use to establish the framework around which we can build a good society, a compassionate community, but only the framework is what the government can provide.  We have to provide that compassion, we have to provide that personal involvement, we have to provide that leadership on a voluntary basis if this society is going to work the way we expect it to work, and you need to be involved in that in your community, and I know that you are.  So as we go through this next several months that I know will be crucial to our overall efforts I want you to keep a few things in mind.  You as individual members of the boards of our various institutions need to get involved you need to be taking it up in your communities that no matter what we have to move forward.  You need to be talking it up with your members of your General Assembly that we’ve got to move forward no matter what, and you’ve got to talk it up that we’ve got to move forward as a state, and what we’ve got to do as a state is try to make an increased commitment to all of our institutions.  All of our institutions, not just your institution, but all of our institutions.  And if we can come united, if we can understand that we will be better off if we can advocate for the benefit of everybody, as I like to say, ‘If we can work together to make the apple bigger, rather than biting each other to try to get a bigger bite of the same little ole apple then we’ll succeed.’  But if we boil down to thinking about well some how or the other, in this one particular arena my particular institution didn’t get everything that the other institution got, then therefore I’m going to go jump ship, and I’m going to try and abandon the whole thing just to make sure my institution gets what it ought to have, then the whole process will fail.  And so as we go through the rest of this conference let me again thank you for what you’ve done, and impress upon you the importance of the challenge before us, and your key role in making that happen and if we keep the faith for these 20 years, then we will know for certain that when we reach the end of that 20 years, we have another 20 years in front of us where we also have to keep the faith, and when we get to the end of that 20 years, we can look forward to another 20 years of keeping the faith and our commitment towards postsecondary education because it is the future, not only of Kentucky, but of our nation and it is in your hands.  Again, thank you all for your dedication to the cause, for what you’ve done, the work you’re gonna do over the next day or so, and for being involved in making that Kentucky that we all want become a reality.  Thank you all so very, very much.