Tribute by
H. Patrick Swygert
at the Ground Breaking Ceremony
for the
Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library

Friday, 20 November 1998
Annex I Parking Lot, 1:00 p.m.


swygert150.jpg (37427 bytes)
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, our architects.
       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 Congressman's
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 yourselves acknowledged.
       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 for us.
       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.

© 1998 Howard University, Washington DC
H. Patrick Swygert, President
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