H. Patrick Swygert
at the Ground Breaking Ceremony
Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library
Friday, 20 November 1998
Annex I Parking Lot, 1:00 p.m.
H. Patrick Swygert
President, Howard University
Thank you Dr. Malveaux. Thank you very much and good afternoon everyone.
It truly is a wonderful day and an especially
wonderful day for Howard University indeed. I want to echo the sentiments already
expressed by Dr. Malveaux in thanking each and everyone of you who have worked so hard for
so long to make today possible.
I want to add to those acknowledgments by
specifically acknowledging the architects and engineers whose genius will produce this
magnificent facility-- a four-story information technology facility that will store
400,000 volumes, periodicals and electronically formatted material and seat 615 people in
spaces wired with power and data ports to support Internet and World Wide Web
connectivity. Please join me in acknowledging Amos Bailey and Lee and the Hillier Group,
In addition, I would like to acknowledge the
construction management team who will be on site every day for the next several years
assuring the successful on-time and on-budget completion of this project, Morris Deisel
Company and the Essex Company. And I want you all to join me in acknowledging as well the
University's director of Capital Projects and his executive assistant, Mr. Bruce Costello
and Patricia Monroe. These folks are really going to be responsible for making this
project a reality. So would you join me in acknowledging them as well.
Now, there are also several other acknowledgments I
must make, and I'm going to ask you to please hold your applause until I have finished. I
want to welcome to our campus and hope that this is only the first of many, many, many
visits to our campus the successor to Congressman Stokes, Congresswoman elect Stephanie
Tubbs Jones. Welcome to Howard University.
I want to also acknowledge and thank the members of
Stokes' staff who have been so patient with all of us over the years as we have called
upon them time and time again for help, advice, and counsel. Thank you all very, very much
indeed. And I'm going to ask the members of the staff who are with us today, would you
please rise so that you might be acknowledged.
We have with us today one of our community and neighborhood stewards, Reverend Earl Trent,
pastor of Florida Avenue Baptist Church and we want to welcome Reverend Trent representing
all of our local clergy who continue to be so very important to us.
Now I am going to ask you to join me in a special
acknowledgment of several members of the Howard University Board of Trustees who are here.
In acknowledging them we acknowledge exemplars of excellence, those persons who really
have the tough decisions to make at this University.
We have with us today, Mr. Randy Short and Dr.
Carolyn Whitfield-Broom. We have with us Mr. Dennis Hightower as well Mrs. Renee
Higginbotham-Brooks. Would you please rise so that you might be
acknowledged? Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in saluting our trustees.
Now in just a moment I am going to call upon Mr.
Dennis Hightower to bring greetings on behalf of our Board of Trustees. He was not
prepared to do so and as you can see he is not in your program but I thought it only
fitting that he come before you on this grand occasion, and I will ask him to join us here
on the platform in momentarily.
Mr. Hightower, who we all know from all of his
incredible success both in public service and in private life as well, has returned to the
University and continues to give back. What is, perhaps, not as well known is that Mr.
Hightower was raised literally within sight of this new facility and I think he can bring
a unique and welcomed perspective to today's program. As he prepares to join us, however,
I also want to acknowledge that Mr. Hightower is accompanied by our classmate and his
bride, Denia Dukes Hightower.
Now on an occasion like this everyone warrants and
certainly deserves acknowledgment and in the off-chance that someone has not been
acknowledged, I want you to give yourselves a round of applause. You may now consider
My tribute, I think, has already been shown to you
via this afternoon's video presentation. And really no words can fully describe the sense
of thanks that we all feel at Howard for the 30 years of service of Louis Stokes to this
great nation of ours and to his championing all that is precious to us at Howard
University...and indeed throughout higher education. I come to bring a tribute, therefore,
in three capacities.
First, I bring this tribute as president of Howard
University. We sincerely thank you Lou Stokes, Congressman Stokes, for all you have done
Second, I come as a spokesperson--for today's
purposes--for all of American higher education who have supped at the table that
Congressman Stokes has so generously set before us and we thank you.
And, finally I come, as someone who a number of years
ago as a very, very young person had the privilege of serving as an administrative
assistant to a very, very young congressman by the name of Charles B. Rangel of New York.
Congressman Rangel-- "Charlie"--had just
been elected to succeed Adam Clayton Powell to the Congress and like myself we were both
at that time New York lawyers. There was one piece of advice given to both of us, Charlie
as a newly mentored Congressperson and to me as a new administrative assistant: take
yourselves to Lou Stokes as quickly as you can; listen to everything he has to tell you
and follow it to the letter!
Well, we did that and we have done that and it has
benefited us both immensely in so many ways.
In 1995 I had occasion to visit Congressman Stokes'
office. This time as President-designate of Howard University. And I said to him, "a
number of years ago I came to you for advice and counsel. This time, I am coming to you
again in a little bit of a different capacity. But, again for advice and counsel."
And as I did then I've tried to do today and continue to try to do today, namely, follow
his advice to the letter.
What you see here is a result of listening to Lou
Stokes. Again, I want to thank you personally. Thank you on behalf of this University!
Thank you on behalf of higher education! And thank you on behalf of all the millions of
lives that indeed you have touched.
And thank you, also, Mrs. Jay Stokes, for being in
your own way a champion of Howard University. I want to now call upon, to say a word on
behalf of our Board of Trustees, a classmate of mine, a tremendous friend of his alma
mater, and a great, great, American citizen, Mr. Dennis Hightower.
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