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A Proud Moment in Susquehanna's History

Remarks by President L. Jay Lemons

March 7, 2008

Good evening and welcome to Carnegie Hall. As we commence the celebration of Susquehanna University's sesquicentennial, it is hard to imagine doing so in a more exciting and magnificent place. Indeed, this is one of the world's most celebrated cultural venues and it is a place that is synonymous with excellence.

It has been said of Carnegie Hall that all artists who grace this stage are standing on a base of history, anchored by a tradition of excellence. Just as the artists you will see and hear this evening are standing on a base of history, so too are they anchored by our own tradition of musical excellence. From our earliest days music has been an important window through which the world has witnessed the excellence that is Susquehanna University.

How in the world did we end up here at Carnegie Hall to begin this celebration? Well the traditional answer, as is well known to most of you, is "practice, practice, practice!" In our case, it is literally true. This collection of nearly 300 alumni, students and faculty have had but three practices together. Yet I know they will honor this stage, this hall and this audience with a performance of a rare quality.

The other answer, less well known, is that a grand set of Susquehanna friends, who wish to remain anonymous, have made this evening possible. For this, we owe these benefactors a great debt of gratitude.

Some among us traveled cross country to this performance. For all who have gathered in this hallowed place, the overwhelming desire to be here, in my view, speaks to our university's goodly heritage, its momentum and the important role that Susquehanna has played in each of our lives. Indeed, we are all blessed for the privilege of sharing in the Susquehanna family.

Tonight we find ourselves marking an anniversary that calls us to give thanks for the women and men who have shaped Susquehanna and the hearts and minds of generations of students.

Susquehanna was conceived by a group of visionary leaders inspired by the hope, promise and optimism of the Enlightenment. Since our founding in 1858, Susquehanna has been an institution driven by a core mission. When our founders established Susquehanna, they were committed to making the world a better place through ideas and actions.

This remains our raison d'être, our reason for being. The timeless values of a Susquehanna education connect us to one another, bind us across the generations and renew in perpetuity our commitment to preparing students for lives of achievement, leadership and service in a diverse and interconnected world.

You – our students, graduates, parents, teachers, trustees and friends – have reaped the benefits of choosing Susquehanna. In each of you there is a Susquehanna story of enduring value. Our collective story is one of excellence, determination, accomplishment and hope.

This anniversary also prompts us to consider the legacy we want to create for Susquehanna and for the students and mentors who will follow us. A few weeks from now, I will join the faculty and staff in welcoming prospective students to whom we have offered admission for the coming fall. I will invite those students to choose Susquehanna – not just for four years, but, for a lifetime. In a similar way, each of us has an opportunity to build upon the base of excellence that anchors Susquehanna. Tonight in this inspiring place, I invite all of you to think about how you can add to this legacy.

In the native tongue, the word Susquehanna translates roughly to the river of the long reach. From its modest beginning, the university we all love has developed a very long reach. As we prepare for our next 150 years, it is my fervent prayer that the reach of Susquehanna will be extended further and further across the globe.

Tonight, our past, present and future are at a confluence just as the branches of the Susquehanna River come together near our birthplace in Selinsgrove. Tonight there is a confluence here at Carnegie Hall – joining hearts and voices among many generations in celebration of where we started, where we have been and where we will go.

So sit back and imagine enjoying a summer afternoon float on the shimmering waters of the Susquehanna and relax to the musical currents of the Susquehanna University Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra. I promise you it will be a rich and rewarding journey.

Thank you for being here and let me close by simply saying, God Bless Susquehanna and all in her embrace.

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