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Inaugural Keynote Address

Dr. William J. Keppler, PhD
Keynote Address
October 2, 2010

I respectfully wish to acknowledge and to thank President John Scaringe and everyone associated with the Southern California University of Health Sciences for inviting me to deliver this Installation Address today.

I consider it to be a high honor and a distinct privilege to see my good friend and dear colleague Dr. John Scaringe inaugurated as the Fourteenth President of this wonderful university.

Dr. Scaringe informed me several months'ago with his kind invitation of his "Three Bs: "Be Brief! Be Good! and, above all, Be Gone!

I am reminded, too of the famous French, philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, who once authored a very long letter to a dear friend and apologized at the end of his long missive that he had lacked the time to make it short!

Further, many of you may have read in the Los Angeles Times, a recent survey and study on an audience of 1000 listening to a ten minute speech at a local college. The results of this listening survey is most interesting and may have direct implications concerning my address today.

5% of those in attendance could recall all or the majority of the important points in a ten minute speech.

12% of those in attendance could recall approximately half of the important points in the speech.

28% of those present could recall what the speech was about and could even recite two or even three essential points in the ten minute address.

And finally, the remaining 55% of the people heard very little, tuned out the speaker completely, and indulged themselves in romantic fantasies!

Therefore, if these statistics hold true, I have the utmost confidence in knowing that more than half of you today will enjoy yourselves regardless of whatever I say!

I have known Dr. John Scaringe in a professional way as a most conscientious, dedicated, and enthusiastic site team member for the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) and as a member of several evaluation teams for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) that accredits 165 colleges and universities in seven Western States. Dr. Scaringe has been a most valuable member of our site teams and represented this university with distinction on both a regional and national basis.

Next year, 2011, the Southern California University of Health Sciences will celebrate the institution's Centennial, some 100 years of distinguished service to the professions and to higher education. That year is especially dear to me in a very personal way since my mother was born exactly three days after this university was founded on 18 October 1911.

What was going on in 1911? Here are just a few of notable events:

  • William Howard Taft was President of the United States
  • The population of the USA was 94,000,000 million people
  • California allowed women the right to vote
  • The first coast to coast plane flight took 49 days (not 49 hours!)
  • The average USA income was $521, a new home $2500, and a new car $690.

So a lot of changes in these 99 years since 1911. You should have much to celebrate in your coming Centennial and we wish you every good success with this historical event.

My research recently took me to an in depth study by the President and CEO of the Xerox Corporation in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal. He conducted with his executive staff a most comprehensive statistical analysis of their most successful plant managers over a period of ten or more years of service to Xerox.

The managers that were most successful consistently demonstrated five characteristics that I believe are directly applicable to administering an institution of higher learning. They are not in any priority order, but here they are:

  1. CREATIVITY. By this quality of performance is imagination characterized by originality and expressiveness. I sometimes think we loose creativity as we advance from K-12 to higher education. What about you and your creative talents? Is that true for you as it is for me?
  2. INQUISITIVENESS. That is the quest for new knowledge and the fact that highly successful individuals are unduly curious and inclined to investigate different approaches to problem solving. They seek other opinions. I am reminded of the famous parable of the "Six Blind Men" who in their inquisitiveness each felt a different part of an elephant. One thought the ear was a fan, another the tusks, a spear, and the leg, a tree trunk and so on. All six were right, but all were also wrong. Imagine if all six blind men got together to discuss what each individual saw. They would have a pretty good idea of what that elephant looked like. It reinforces the concept of working together in small teams.
  3. IDEALISM. This quality is the act or practice of continually envisioning things in an ideal form. If I were to sit down with each of you and ask you what is your ideal job or ideal vacation, you probably have a pretty good idea of what constitutes an ideal job or a stress free vacation.
  4. ABILITY TO CHANGE. The 21st Century has been a century of change. Change is difficult for most of us to deal with since we are creatures of habit. The old ways are still the best ways for some of us. Further, change does raise our anxiety level. Machiavelli said it best in his classic book, The Prince: "it must be considered there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things.
  5. SENSE OF VALUES AND ETHICS. This last of the five characteristics is most critical. Here we are speaking of a set principles of right and moral conduct. Not only possessing critical core values, but living them in our dally life both in our professional and personal habits. Even when we Inevitably fall occur but while still keeping a positive attitude that matters will ultimately get better. Our Twentieth President, Woodrew Wilson said, "I would rather fail in a cause that succeeds than succeed in a cause that fails." Colin Powell, former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, said, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." Further, Cervantes, the greatest writer of Spanish literature in his classic, Don Quixote wrote, "Every person is the architect of his or her own destiny."

So please think about these five characteristics-creativity, inquisitiveness, idealism, ability to change, and a sense of values, that surfaced in this comprehensive Xerox study.

Please keep in mind the new source of power in the 21 st Century is no longer money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many. In our literacy intensive society, we must exercise more capable critical and creative thinking skills applied to practical problem solving the thousands of satellites have turned our earth inward upon itself, not outward. Just look today at our iPods, i Phones, Blackberries, countless Social Networks, and sophisticated GPS systems to see how satellites have changed our earthly lives in the first decade of the 21 st Century.

Finally, we must learn to somehow balance technology with the spiritual demands of human nature.

Thank you for inviting me today to this wonderful installation of President John Scaringe and for those who may have tuned me out as mentioned in the listening survey at the beginning of my address.

Congratulations to President John Scaringe at his Installation as the Fourteenth President today, and to the Southern California University of Health Sciences as the institution approaches its Centennial Year of 2011.