Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Evergreen Seminar Building II Dedication
May 12, 2004
Good afternoon. Thank you for that kind introduction.
President Purce, Dr. Fleming, members of the Board of Trustees, students, faculty, staff, and the many other friends of Evergreen who are here today: I am honored to join you. This is a great day for The Evergreen State College, and a great day for the Evergreen State.
Seminar Building II is an impressive building, and an important step forward for this college.
I wish to thank the state legislators who worked hard to make sure Seminar II was part of the budget. They include Senators Dan Swecker, Karen Frasier, Darlene Fairly and Joe Zarelli; and Representatives Phyllis Kenney, Sam Hunt, Sandra Romero, Ed Murray, Hans Dunshee and Gary Alexander. Senator Swecker, by the way, is an Evergreen alum!
The state has provided $47 million for this project. Standing here today, it’s clear to me that this was a very wise investment.
This state-of-the-art facility is symbolic of our commitment to at least three things.
First, our commitment to higher education opportunities. It adds sufficient space for Evergreen to grow to 5,000 full-time enrollments. Allowing or accommodating more enrollments at our colleges and universities is critically important for our state.
Since 1997 when I took office, we’ve steadily increased state funded enrollments. We are proud of this progress. Yet even if we continue over the next few years at the same rate of increase in student enrollments as we have over the past 10 years, we will not be able to keep up with the demand for admission.
The fact is there will be more high school graduating seniors than ever before wanting to attend college – more than there will be space for! The gap between budgeted college enrollments and expected participation will be 20,000 by the year 2010.
Without significant new funding for higher education, we will soon be turning away at least 10,000 deserving students from our state colleges and universities.
We must not fail the many who aspire to one day attend Evergreen or any of the other fine colleges and universities in our state.
Let’s make sure everyone in our state has the opportunity to know the deep fulfillment of higher education opportunities. Let’s make sure everyone has opportunities to learn in such beautiful and functional surroundings as this.
This great facility is also symbolic of our second commitment: to the environment and to future generations. The “green design” includes the use of sustainable materials, waste reduction requirements, energy conservation systems, indoor air quality requirements, and low-impact construction techniques.
A sustainable tomorrow is everyone’s responsibility today. This responsibility is not a new one. President John F. Kennedy dedicated the National Wildlife Federation Building in 1961 with these words:
It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.
While this responsibility is not new, it has never been more urgent. We must make sustainable design a part of every new building. We can be proud that the Seminar II Building is a needed step in the right direction and that Evergreen is again leading the way!
Perhaps most importantly, this facility embodies a third commitment: to the learning philosophy here at Evergreen, and to the great tradition of a liberal arts education.
The design reflects Evergreen’s focus on active, interdisciplinary learning. Learning that integrates theory and practice. Both faculty and students were involved in the design process. Seminar II captures Evergreen’s unique teaching and learning style.
This expansion also underscores our unwavering commitment to the liberal arts. And I believe that this reaffirmation comes at a critical juncture.
We live in a materialistic world. And this materialism has surfaced in shifting values and changes in what a college education means and should be.
Too often, we’ve seen more emphasis on earning than on learning. Too often, our society has been preoccupied with graduating specialists instead of individuals with an exposure to a broad array of disciplines.
But this building behind me stands as a new monument to a timeless idea—that college should teach us not just how to make a living, but also about life itself. Students here are developing personal habits of mind and critical thinking skills. These habits of mind and ways of looking at the world will be their equipment for living the rest of their lives.
The liberal arts are not new, but they have never been more relevant. Liberal arts study teaches us to ask meaningful questions, encourages us to expand our imaginations, and cultivates the courage to challenge the irrational and champion the humane. These qualities have never been more critically important.
If we are to confront the great challenges facing the 21st century world—if we hope to put an end to terrorism and war—if we want to solve global warming, and preserve and protect our precious environment— if we aspire to help those struggling with poverty, hunger and disease—then we need to be more than great specialists, valuable though such specialists are. We need also to be critical thinkers, grounded in many disciplines.
Liberal arts study teaches us to think, challenge and understand. It teaches us to observe and inquire, and to understand and accept. It teaches us both personal and community responsibility. Liberal arts study engenders the intellectual, emotional and spiritual capacity to adapt to a constantly changing world, and to choose and change values wisely.
Standing behind me is a magnificent edifice. But it represents so much more.
Evergreen Seminar Building II reaffirms our collective conviction that the liberal arts offer a key to a more enlightened, more caring and more civilized society. A more enduring society.
As we dedicate this building today, let us also rededicate ourselves to the noble principle for which it stands: That higher education offers the profound promise of a better world.