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Westcott Legacy Society

11:30 a.m. Thursday, February 18 – FSU Alumni Center Ballroom

Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here to welcome you to campus and thank you for your commitment to Florida State University.

Let me tell you, there is a real sense of excitement in the air about Florida State and the direction we are headed.

Everywhere I go, people share with me their optimism for Florida State. People are are really getting the message that FSU is a preeminent university on the rise.

You understand our vision and can see not only what Florida State is today, but the potential of what it can be in the future.

You have chosen to invest in something that is bigger than all of us — an institution that has been dedicated to instilling the values of strength, skill and character in its students for more than 160 years and will be here long after we are gone.

Your investment in Florida State is one you can feel good about. Just look at where we are today.

We have top-notch faculty whose research is recognized around the world. We have a creative and efficient staff. Our students are better than ever, and they are winning top national awards and fellowships. And our student-athletes are competing at the highest levels, while recording their highest-ever academic performance this past school year.

Our student retention rate is 93 percent, and our 6-year graduation rate is 79 percent. Those are excellent numbers. In fact, only three institutions in U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 exceeded their predicted rate of graduation by more than FSU.

Next year’s class of freshmen is shaping up to be very impressive. We are attracting top-quality students while addressing diversity and inclusion. This is a top priority of mine.

We also have now raised nearly $860 million toward our $1 billion capital campaign goal. I’m sure you heard that we got a big boost in December with a $100 million gift from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation.

The gift — the largest in our history — will create the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship. This school is the first of its kind in the nation and will prepare students for a future of ????

One of our trustees Kathryn Ballard and her husband Brian gave us a $1 million gift of a building downtown where will locate the new building.

The quality of our students and faculty as well as our fund-raising success are among the factors that will help us achieve our goal to be ranked among the Top 25 public universities in the country.

I’m confident we will get there.

One of the highlights of gatherings like these is hearing about your passions — the reasons that compelled you to make a planned gift commitment to Florida State.

For Mary Harris, her passion was the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice where she worked in the dean’s office for 25 years before retiring in 1983. She dedicated countless volunteer hours to helping students find jobs after graduation.

Mary or Mrs. Harris was a 1937 graduate of FSCW who died when? Her altruistic spirit led her to leave a legacy to the college. The Joseph Harris Endowment Memorial Fund in Criminology will benefit students for years to come and honors her son, Joseph, who died serving his country in Vietnam in 1972.

You can read more about Mrs. Harris in your program, and I hope you’ll take some time after this luncheon to take a tour of the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice in its new home in Eppes Hall.

I think it really takes a special person to make a gift that will make a difference long after he or she has passed on. Mary is just one of these special people.

Florida State is blessed to have so many people whose connection to this university is so deep that they have made estate gifts. We are honored and grateful to you.

Your generosity will ensure a lasting legacy of excellence at FSU, and it will help propel this university into the future and into the Top 25.

I deeply appreciate the trust and faith you have put in this great institution and in those of us lucky enough to go to work every day to continue making it excellent.

Thank you for all that you do to support Florida State University.