Remarks made by Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders on the Occasion of U.S. President Barack Obama's Visit to the Boca Raton Campus April 10, 2012

Good afternoon, and welcome to Florida Atlantic University!

Today we have the high honor and the distinct pleasure of welcoming to our University the 44th President of the United States of America – President Barack Obama! We welcome him on behalf of the entire Florida Atlantic University community, which is so fortunate to be served by a truly dedicated Board of Trustees

Many of our Trustees are here today:

The privilege of hosting a sitting President of the United States has been accorded Florida Atlantic University on just one other occasion, and that was when President Lyndon Johnson came to Boca Raton almost 50 years ago to dedicate what was then the nation's newest university on what had been a World War Two airbase. How wonderful it is that we are beginning the University's second half-century of service to our state and nation with a visit from President Obama

In a letter congratulating us on our 50th anniversary, Luci Baines Johnson, President Johnson's daughter, made a point of saying that her father spent much of his life working to make sure that the doors of higher education would be open to everyone in America who had the desire and the ability to walk through those doors. How proud he would be to know that FAU now ranks as the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse institution in Florida's State University System, with a 29,000-member student body that reflects the richly interwoven human tapestry of our state and nation. FAU looks like America, and that is why we call it "America's university."

At this University we are serving people of all ages, from the young children in the Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development to the intellectually vibrant men and women of retirement age in our enormously popular Lifelong Learning Society. At the elementary school level, the Alexander D. Henderson Univrsity School here on this campus and the Palm Pointe Educational Research School in Port St. Lucie have both won "A" ratings from the Florida Department of Education. And last year FAU High School was one of the few schools statewide to achieve both an "A" rating and a perfect accountability score!

Like President Johnson, President Obama has come to us at a time when we are launching a major new educational initiative. The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine – which is the tenth college under the FAU umbrella and the country's newest medical school – welcomed its inaugural class of future physicians last fall. Through this new college, we continue to pursue the University's mission of meeting our society's most pressing needs

Evidence of the sincerity of this effort abounds throughout the University and can be clearly seen in the work of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, which has become known worldwide for its advocacy of the caring model of nursing education. And it can be seen in the special focus that our School of Social Work in the College for Design and Social Inquiry places upon providing essential services to America's rapidly growing population of senior citizens

Our College of Education is reaching out to the men and women who are returning from serving our nation in the military by coordinating the statewide Troops to Teachers program. The College is also working proactively to provide a solid educational foundation for children who are most likely to be under-served by offering special incentives to teach in inner-city schools

This afternoon President Obama will be discussing the economy, and FAU is hard at work in that arena as well. Our nationally ranked College of Business, our College of Engineering and Computer Science, and our Charles E Schmidt College of Science have formed mutually beneficial partnerships with many organizations in the private sector, and they are nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs through a variety of very successful programs. The College of Business also takes great pride in being the home of FAU's nationally distinguished School of Accounting

South Florida is ideally suited to become the country's next major center of biomedical discovery, and our researchers are deeply engaged in bio-technological research. A primary concern of people here and around the nation is preservation and understanding the marine and coastal environment. FAU's world-class Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute continues to lead the way in marine science, engineering and oceanography. FAU is also the home of the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center, which is working on ways to harness the power of Florida's offshore ocean currents as a clean, inexhaustible source of energy. Our Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College is serving some of the most academically distinguished students in the nation. Recently, two of our Honors College students have won prestigious Fulbright awards to continue their studies abroad

FAU has long been a vibrant center of creative and artistic activities as well, with students and faculty members in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters enriching the life of our community year after year with well-attended concerts, plays, exhibitions, readings and other public presentations. Our arts and humanities faculty members have been accorded the nation's highest honors, including Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships

We come together on this day as a united university community, proud of our accomplishments and determined to foster excellence and innovation. We greatly appreciate President Obama's dedicated leadership to keep America's light shining throughout the world as a beacon of educational preeminence and opportunity. On behalf of our Trustees, our faculty and staff, our students and our entire community, I am pleased to extend Florida Atlantic University's heartfelt welcome to President Barak Obama!

 Last Modified 7/16/12