Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Dinner Honoring Washington State University President Sam Smith
May 19, 2000
Kathy, it's great to see you again and thanks for those thoughtful words.
Hello Cougars! It's great to be back with the Wazoo crowd tonight, but even greater to be here on such a special night - Sam and Pat's night.
Kathy mentioned that no one has ever accused Cougars of being subtle in their pride. Well, Why Should They Be Subtle? There is nothing subtle about the impact Sam Smith has had on Wazoo and the impact Wazoo has had on our great state. And the state of our state is great thanks to the vision, energy and dedication of people like Sam and Pat Smith.
When I first ran for office, I said I was going to move heaven and earth to improve our education system, and we're making huge strides. But even before then, Sam took the world of higher education on his shoulders and carried it around like Atlas.
In 1985, the Kansas City Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games to win the World Series. Out of Africa won the Oscar for best picture (though Flashdance still had its influence on fashions.) Microsoft shipped the very first version of Windows. And Sam Smith left California for the state of Washington, and nothing has been the same since.
Sam saw, way before anyone else, that the world was about to change and change fast. And if higher education were going to fill the needs of this changing society and economy, it would have to change, too. Sam saw the global world before it got global, back when I was clinging to my "Brother" Typewriter, Sam recognized that technology was the way to broaden access to higher education.
Sam saw the future that requires education to come to the people, instead of making the people come to isolated campuses. So Sam went to Olympia and said that we needed branch campuses. And Wazoo was the first college in the state to open branch campuses.
And Sam went back to Olympia to say, "We need learning centers" - what we now call distance learning. And now Wazoo is one of the top wired universities in the nation. And "distance learning" is a household word.
Sam's lobbying power is legendary. I remember back during Gov. Lowry's years. Lowry was quoted in the papers saying Sam Smith was the best politician in the state. And he is. And you know why? Sam's very good at telling the story of Wazoo and gathering the political and legislative support he needed through the power of his story. And Sam could do that because Sam believed every word of that story.
For men like Sam, there's a very thin line between vision and reality. Which is a good thing because it allows them to see the big picture, the whole notion. Sam has always seen the future of the state of Washington in terms of providing education to the people of our state. He is in the business of education, not just the business of campus.
I'll be back here next month to deliver a Commencement Address. And as I pull my thoughts together about what I'd like to say to the graduates as they leave the campus for "the real world," I keep finding myself urging them to adopt Sam's qualities. His openness, friendliness, vision, acumen - his compassion.
But I don't want to make it sound like Sam's done this alone. He hasn't. He's been part of a team, and Pat's the other half. You two come as a package. You can't take one without the other. And more than one person has told me that Sam and Pat are the most gracious and generous couple they know. In terms of your love for education and love of Wazoo, there is just no comparison.
Pat and Sam are committed to diversity. And when Affirmative Action was repealed, a lot of people washed their hands of diversity. Not Sam and Pat. They said, "if public money is no longer available for scholarships targeting women and minorities…fine. We'll find private funds."
In fact, Sam and Pat are so good at raising private funds, they've brought over 250 million dollars for various WSU programs. They've courted civic organizations, businesses and individuals. Indeed, the Smith dinner table is everyone's dinner table. For the Smith's, it hasn't been just fundraising, but friend-raising.
Sam, Pat, you two say you're retiring, but no one believes it! We know Sam and Pat will continue to push for non-traditional forms of learning. Because for those who crave uncharted territories, there's little we can do to keep them away. And in this case, that's a good thing.
Einstein said "it is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it." Sam and Pat have certainly fulfilled that obligation and more.
In his guest editorial column a couple of weeks ago, Sam wrote, "the heart of WSU will always be in Pullman." Well, I'll say the heart of Sam and Pat Smith will also always be in Pullman.
Sam, thank you for everything you have done, and everything you will do, to make Washington such a great place to live, work, and raise a family.