Members & Partners of the Fresno Business Council,
No doubt many of you attended the celebratory event to honor the tenure of Dr. John Welty on Saturday. It was wonderful to celebrate with so many of the people that have worked for years to make our community a vibrant place. It is only when we stop long enough to reflect upon all that has transpired due to Dr. Welty’s leadership does the word transformation become a lived reality. Remember when Fresno State was considered a detached, ivory tower? Remember what the campus was like before the Save Mart Center, the Kremen School, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the many institutes that were created to allow the community to connect to the University? While many played a role, but for the trust and confidence people have in Dr. Welty, the well over $200 million raised to advance ever higher would have been an impossible goal. While the measurable and visible successes are worth celebrating, Dr. Welty in his remarks spoke to something more profound and enduring. He changed beliefs about Fresno, both within the community and outside of the area. Once you believe in possibilities, you develop the motivation to take action and the will to persevere. A major component of Dr. Welty’s legacy is invisible—it is in the minds of those who now believe we will achieve our potential.
Most of you know Dr. Welty was one of the founders of the Fresno Business Council and has served the past five years as president. But for his leadership and commitment, major efforts like the Collaborative Regional Initiative, the Regional Jobs Initiative, the Central Valley Business Incubator, the Human Investment Initiative and the Strive Initiative would not have happened. The Fresno Stewardship Initiative, the platform built from the lessons learned from all the earlier work is in essence a gift to the community from Fresno State and the Business Council to advance the work of a community agenda. As Dr. Pierrot explained, sometimes your role is laying the foundation of a cathedral and you will never see it at full build out. Dr. Welty helped to lay the foundation for a great community and region and it is up to all of us to continue to persevere.
Our resident poet and chair emeritus, Richard Johanson captured what many of us feel in the verses below. Dr. Pete Mehas shared the poem to close the event.
AN ODE TO DR. JOHN WELTY
Richard A. Johanson – 4/20/2013
Only once in a great while does there comes our way
A person we wish to honor such as we are doing today.
Doctor John Welty has served us long and with care
And will be leaving us each with a memory to share.
For many it’ll be about his long tenure at Fresno State
Others will have their own special memories to relate.
Each will include a reflection on being a part of his life
And that of dear Sharon, his incomparable wife!
His firm hand held the tiller of our great University
Through both times of success and times of adversity.
He promised the community to make the campus involved
And took rightful pride as his far-sighted vision evolved.
The time is now drawing nigh for us to bid him good bye
With a big smile on our face and a small tear in our eye.
May he always remember and look back with pride
That we all walk prouder because he stood at our side.