Forum Plenary Session Puts Baylor On National Stage
As the panel sessions of the Aug. 13 President's Economic Forum concluded at Baylor Law School, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, cabinet members and forum participants gathered for a nationally televised plenary session in Jones Concert Hall. Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., seated next to President Bush, moderated the event before more than a thousand invited guests and members of the media.
The following are Dr. Sloan's introductory remarks as the plenary session began:
"Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests...Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to host the President's Economic Forum.
"We are honored at your presence and humbled at the opportunity to extend our hospitality at such an historic event.
"I would also like to acknowledge the world-wide audience that is viewing today's proceedings on television; we welcome you warmly to Baylor University, as well.
"The efforts of this morning's round-table discussions have been designed to help chart a course for the nation's economy: to envision the steps necessary to effect change in several critical areas of economic life.
"Mr. President, you have organized this forum on the economy very systematically, hearing from participants in a number of discrete economic sectors.
"We are particularly pleased to host this forum because so many of our own efforts at Baylor mirror your aspirations.
"Our historical strengths and future commitments align markedly with the themes you outlined today.
"For example, you asked us to commit time today to a discussion of improving healthcare for all Americans.
"Baylor has a rich tradition of excellence in pre-health care education, preparing students for lives of leadership and service in the healing professions.
"Just across the street from this meeting, we have broken ground on what will be the finest undergraduate sciences education facility in the country - a half-million square foot facility that will house all of Baylor's science education efforts.
"Round-table participants also engaged in a discussion about the importance of strengthening entrepreneurial vitality - of leveraging our nation's rich tradition of independence, self-reliance, and self-motivation in the economic sector.
"We at Baylor recognize that small business is the engine that drives the American economy - employing the majority of new employees in America - and our teaching efforts reflect that realization.
"At Baylor we offer an award-winning curriculum in entrepreneurship recognized throughout the world.
"We also spoke today of the critical impact of technology on the economy.
"Baylor's commitment to scientific discovery - and the transfer of it into economic growth - is manifest in a host of areas.
"For example, nano-technology - which has implications for areas as divergent as bio-technology and a new generation of information systems - is one of our current points of particular focus for new development.
"Clearly, the increase of productivity through technology is vital to a healthy economy, and Baylor is poised to help this region - and the nation - through cutting-edge discovery and application.
"We also spent time today discussing the critical importance of ethics in business.
"We at Baylor have a strong history of education in the area of ethics in the professions, be it in business, law or medicine.
"Beyond the specific research we conduct through several centers on campus, our students are challenged to think critically about how their professional decisions will impact the broader notions of fairness, justice and accountability before humanity and God.
"Perhaps most importantly though, Mr. President, is our resonance with the core convictions you so often express.
"You have often said that the issues of economic prosperity go beyond the details of policy and planning and involve matters of character, conviction and confidence.
"We believe our vocation is to create leaders - people who are capable, compassionate, competitive and courageous - and to send them out to influence the world.
"Now is a time for bold planning - for trying to envision the future.
"That is true for our nation and it is true for Baylor University.
"Our institution is emboldened by our last year's work, in which we captured our aspirations in a ten-year vision that we call Baylor 2012.
"This is perhaps our central aspiration... Within the course of a decade, Baylor intends to enter the top tier of American universities while strengthening and deepening its distinctive faith-based mission.
"Again, it is an extraordinary honor to share with you our hopes for this institution and our support as we strive toward economic excellence."