(As prepared for delivery – August 22, 2017)
Thank you, Professor Carlin.
Those of you who know me surely expect me to talk enthusiastically about Stanford football and the game on Sunday when we will crush Rice. Those remarks will be later this week. This evening I want to focus on why the U.S.-Australia relationship is unparalleled, anywhere in the world. And why it is so appropriate for Stanford scholar athletes to be here.
We are gathered on the campus of one of the world’s great universities, one that is instantly recognizable by its distinctive and gorgeous sandstone Quad at the core of the campus. It is a university founded in the latter half of the 1800s with the vision of preparing students to make meaningful contributions to society as engaged citizens and leaders in a dynamic world.
Sound familiar, Stanford? Yes, I could be describing my alma mater, which has a lot in common with the University of Sydney – known as USyd here, where the Aussies abbreviate nearly everything.
The story for both universities begins in 1850.
The University of Sydney was established in September of that year, expanding the existing Sydney College. Across the ocean in the United States, Leland Stanford married Jane Elizabeth Lathrop.
Two years later, in October 1852, the University of Sydney was inaugurated. That same year, Leland Stanford’s law office burned down, and the Stanfords decided to relocate to California.
In 1859, the University of Sydney moved to this campus. Meanwhile, in the same year, Leland Stanford lost his campaign for Governor of California.
To this point, it’s looking decidedly better for USyd than for Leland and Jane Stanford.
However, two years later as the United States became embroiled in our Civil War, Leland Stanford told the California Republican convention that the South stood for aristocracy while the Union represented democracy. He earned the Republican nomination and successfully ran for Governor, kept California in the Union during the War, and saw to it that the state contributed substantially to the Union victory.
He also encouraged legislation supportive of a proposed transcontinental railroad, and his subsequent railroad building helped make Leland Stanford wealthy. Following the death in 1884 of their only son, Leland Stanford Junior, Jane and Leland Stanford determined that they would use their wealth to do something for ‘the children of California.’
They created a great and untraditional university: coeducational, in a time when most were all-male; nondenominational, when most were associated with a religious organization; avowedly practical, producing “cultured and useful citizens” when most were concerned only with the former. With the exception of welcoming women from the start, that sounds like USyd too.
One of the members of the first full graduating class at Stanford was Herbert Hoover. He served as student manager of both the baseball and football teams and was a part of the inaugural Big Game against our archrival the University of California. We call it Cal – we abbreviate too.
Hoover is the one and only U.S. President to serve as team manager in the Big Game. Stanford won that game, of course. Just as we have won the last seven Big Games.
Herbert Hoover’s degree was in mining engineering, and soon after graduation he arrived in Western Australia to put his degree to use. Making decisions with all the confidence of his youth and his education, he quickly gained the reputation as the best mining engineer in the colony of Australia.
Clearly, a Stanford engineering degree fostered innovative thinking from the first days of the university. We have nine engineering majors on the Stanford team, 16 Science, Tech, & Society majors, a Computer Science major, and two Symbolic Systems majors – and I’d bet these men will galvanize change in their techie fields just as Hoover did in mining engineering.
Indeed, each member of this team made a 40 year decision when selecting Stanford, and your contributions as engaged citizens after your playing days will surely be meaningful – and “useful” in the words of Jane Stanford.
Who knows, perhaps one of you – or the current team manager – will also become President of the United States.
We’ve come a long way in U.S.-Australian collaboration since that young mining engineer first set foot in this country. The United States and Australia are best mates across a wide scope of collaboration, from our unparalleled military alliance, to law enforcement and intelligence cooperation, to academic and cultural exchanges.
The depth of our strategic economic relationship is every bit as important to both our countries. Permit me to share just one example that seems tailored for the scholar athletes from Silicon Valley. You were out on the gorgeous Sydney Harbor yesterday. This city is well on its way to becoming known as Quantum Harbor.
A multi-year partnership started last month that brings together this university, Microsoft, and support from the U.S. Government. It is no exaggeration that world-changing developments are taking place here at the Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory, with real-world engineering of quantum machines. Predictions suggest that scaling up of quantum technology will directly contribute to a host of advancements within human reach, including advanced weather modelling, economic forecasting, addressing global warming, advancing development of pharmaceuticals, and even understanding the origin of life as we know it.
Pretty cool — and just one example of the tremendous collaboration between the United States and Australia.
So, let me close with a warm welcome to this lovely city of Sydney. And with congratulations to three incoming Stanford freshmen who are here with us this evening, Louis, Hagar, and Callum.
Go Card, crush Rice for Win One – and Beat Cal.