Joe Pichler’s Founders’ Day speech
Thank you for this wonderful recognition. I am grateful beyond words.
Susan and I became members of the Xavier Family 21 years ago and our lives have been greatly enriched by participating in Xavier’s life. We cherish our friendships with Father Graham and his staff, the faculty, alums and Board colleagues. And we are grateful for the opportunities we have had to assist the University in its development. Xavier is a special place and the Founders’ Day Award will hold a very special place in our hearts.
Please join me in recognizing Susan, the love of my life. We met in October of 1960; I proposed one month later; last year we celebrated our 50th anniversary. (I guess it’s gonna work.) We have shared the joys and challenges of family life, my careers in academia and business, and participation in community activities. There is so much more that I could say, but my heart is too full.
I did not have the good fortune of attending Xavier. (Out of reverence for Father Hoff, I will not mention the name of my alma mater. Jim always referred to that place as The Great Red Satan of the North.) However, I did attend a Jesuit high school and my life was transformed by the experience.
In addition to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, St. Louis U. High School taught us the Ignatian gifts of spiritual reflection, ethical behavior, compassion and service to others. We learned to “open” ourselves in order to become “men and women for others.” Does that sound familiar? I think you will find those same virtues embedded in Xavier’s ‘Mission, Vision and Values Statement.’ These ideas form the foundation for a fulfilling life. They provide perspective for considering the events of this world and they urge us to take action that all serve the common good. For Jesuits, the action word is Magis: ‘More…always more.’ There is always more good that we can do if we are open to the call.
During my time on the Xavier Board, I have seen these Jesuit values practiced in the classroom, in administrative decisions and in the Boardroom. They create a bond among faculty, administration and the Board…a common lens through which opportunities, challenges and issues are thoughtfully evaluated. Students are drawn into that bond through the content of their courses and co-curricular activities. Xavier is not just a university…it is a community that welcomes and blesses everyone who participates. A gift to us all.
This is the “Xavier Way” and it has proven to be effective as well as enriching. Think about the physical changes that have transformed this campus in the past decade. Consider the two capital campaigns that have been completed so successfully during that time. Look at the construction that is now underway at Xavier Station on the East campus. Wow! An amazing set of a achievements in such a short period of time. I am grateful to have been “along for the ride” and look forward to the road ahead.