Transcript of Opening Speeches
Dedication Ceremony for The Evergreen State College
April 21, 1972


Janet Tourtellotte: Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Daniel J. Evans: Governor, State of Washington
Charles J. McCann: First President, The Evergreen State College

Tourtellotte: "Welcome to Evergreen. Today I act simply as a spokesman for the State of Washington, the Trustees of Evergreen College, the faculty, the staff, and the students of Evergreen. Each of these has contributed greatly to the establishment of this institution, and to the success of this day. They all join in welcoming out guests, and thanking you all for coming. Just a brief glance backward to recall how Evergreen came to be: In 1965, the legislature created a temporary advisory council on public higher education—their studies showed that an additional 4-year college was needed in the Olympia area. In 1967, the legislature acted on this recommendation and appropriated money to acquire land, and authorized the governor to appoint a Board of five Trustees. The intent of the legislature was not that this be an exact replica of other 4-year colleges, though drawing heavily on their wisdom and experience. It was recognized that here was a unique opportunity to develop some new ways to prepare students for life in a world of constant change. Four years later, that college is in operation. Obviously, the physical plan is not complete. But in spite of the limited space, the academic program is in full swing. Now the time has come that this institution should be formally dedicated. As spokesman for the day, I herewith declare that it is dedicated to the future and particularly to the youth of the future. It is now my honor to present to you the man whose name appears on this handsome library—Governor of the State of Washington, Daniel J. Evans."

Evans: “President McCann, Miss Tourtellotte, Board of Trustees, faculty, students, friends of Evergreen, skeptics, doubters. [laughter from audience] And they, I am sure there are some of those. I can tell you that I am proud, for one, to be here, I'm proud to be part of Evergreen in at least some small way, and most of all I am proud of what Evergreen has meant and what it is doing. I think it's a particularly appropriate date on which we meet here — tomorrow, April 22nd, is Earth Day, or it was a celebration of Earth Day of a couple of years ago and you remembered the interest and the nationwide dedication to a quality environment and a better future for this country. Two years have passed. This month two years ago, turmoil struck this nation from one end to the other. Two years have passed. And I wonder sometimes what's happened to the turmoil and to the activism, which struck so many and involved so many, of two years ago. Of those who have set out to reorder our priorities and to reorder society, given up, or, and I hope this true, in a very different way, succeeded, or are in the process of succeeding: It is time now to reach inward, to reach down and touch the troubled spirit of America. It is time to confront the issues of poverty and disease and human dignity, which lie beneath the violence that tears at every conscience just as it strikes fear in every in every heart. [cut] But if Evergreen means anything, if it means anything to the faculty, and to the administration and to the student body, and if it means anything at all, to the citizens of this state, then I believe it must mean that the tackling of this unfinished agenda must be formed, that somehow and in some way what Evergreen does helps to replace helplessness with hope. In 28 years, the millennium will have come again. The year 2000 will be here and those of you who are students at Evergreen today, will be my age — heaven forbid. [audience laughter] And I think the question you ought to ask yourselves today, and I hope it is being asked by many, is “what will I face then?” Do you ever really think about it, or do you ever really care? And I think the real question is not what it will be like in the year 2000, but “how can I make it what it should be?” in the year 2000, not for just myself, but for the entire community. If Evergreen is to fulfill its commitment, it as an institution must dream not the small dreams, but the very large dreams. I hope by the year 2000 that education will be much more individualized and personalized than it is today, and that much of that education will occur in the community and not solely in the separate and sometimes rather isolated campuses of our colleges, universities, and even high schools. I believe by the year 2000 these will be an extensive interchange of people, from one country and on continent to another, and throughout that exchange and through that better understanding at the person-to-person level perhaps we have the best single hope of reaching a peace that is lasting. By the year 2000 we must have resolved the basic rights of each citizen of this nation to adequate medical care, adequate food and adequate housing for each citizen. But most of all by the year 2000, I hoped we have reached a society where success is not measured by the accumulation of material goods, but by how satisfying, how useful, and how personally rewarding a life becomes. [applause] Some word got around, of this community, that I was going to participate in an unusual event today... [chuckles, audience laughs] William Unsoeld suggested that I repel down the clock tower. [audience laughter and applause] What is vastly more important is that you leave your mark on Evergreen. To President McCann, to students, to the faculty members of this college —today the potential for doing that is unlimited because you have no footsteps to follow. Tomorrow's generation will travel in your footsteps, so I hope and trust that each of you will make these first steps innovative, and bold, and decisive, but most of all, make these first steps taken with a conviction that there is a future, that it is not preordained, but that it will be what we make it. That must be the Evergreen challenge. [cut]

Tourtellotte: “In the name of the State of Washington and by authority vested in me as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Evergreen College, I hereby install you Charles John McCann as the first president of Evergreen State College.”

McCann: “Ladies and gentlemen of Evergreen, and friends of Evergreen. Let me name you groups responsible for Evergreen, for the honor is yours today. In something like historical order: The 1967 legislature of the State of Washington, the Governor of the State of Washington, the Trustees of Evergreen, Roger Camp, Halvor Halvorson, Al Saunders, Trueman Schmidt, Janet Tourtellotte and Herbert Hadley, and of course, the faculty, the staff, and most of all, the students of Evergreen. [cut] If we, faculty and staff, are going to be understanding and patient with anyone, let it be with students — and with supporters, the citizens who keep us in existence. If we're going to be tough and demanding, let it be of each other, fellow professionals. Let's, however, be prepared to be called foolish, all of us, here at Evergreen. For almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness, when they are first produced. At the end of our first year, Evergreen has been taken seriously, and watched carefully, by those concerned with undergraduate study in most of the English-speaking world. I pledge in my term as president, to help ensure what you have well begun — to maintain the utmost flexibility in matching individual faculty expertness, to maintain our integrity, by doing only what the talent, here at the moment, can do honestly, in the best traditions of teaching and scholarship, and to work with the businesses and professions, helping students forge their career lengths directly, as an alternative to the academic curriculums. All this, so that Evergreen students, as they already richly promise, will be productive members of constantly changing groups throughout their lives. Be capable, confident acquirers and communicators of what is known. Be practitioners of those sciences that will grace our country. And be adept in the responsible, clear, discourse, on which our common wealth's well being depends, so that they will have abilities to help our country solve seemingly insoluble problems, like for example, this war. I hope that you share my pride in the directions we've established, and that you share my determination to pursue them. [applause]”