Grand Opening of Darla Moore School of Business

Good evening friends. How happy I am to be with you. When I became president, people gave me many books to read. Most had titles like "How to Become a Great Leader in Seven Days or Less."

I wasn't sure what to make of that, but it didn't matter, I never read them. Instead, I read about history. I read about the state's history, and the university's history—every period, every turning point, unadulterated, good history. There were many great stories—most, better than fiction—and there were colorful characters: heroes, rogues, and villains. But it was the physical development of the campus that really captured my imagination.

Over the 213 years since our founding, we have developed a unique and wonderful university campus. We've been fortunate to have some vision, and many capable architects who have been adept at sculpting our future.

In the nineteenth century we were influenced by one of America's first native-born architects, Robert Mills. A friend of Thomas Jefferson, Mills was only 21 when he submitted a design for Rutledge College (1802), our first building. The Board of Trustees were not enamored with his first design and assigned a second architect to work with him. Mills went on to design the Washington Monument, the Treasury Building, and Charleston's Historic district. He also designed our South Caroliniana Library, which was completed in 1840.

Today, we celebrate another leap of faith. I'm delighted that a relationship between an architect of great skill and vision, Rafael Viñoly, and a client with enduring faith and an uncompromising belief in excellence, Darla Moore and her university, found each other and created this new landmark.

The Caroliniana was revolutionary for its time and it is notable as the first free-standing academic library building in the United States. Mills also designed the Maxcy Monument, still at the center of the Horseshoe. During the middle of the twentieth century, Edward Durell Stone, surely one of the nation's most influential but not, necessarily, revered architects, introduced another memorable design to Carolina. This came in the form of a provocative rendering for a new library that was to be named after the university's second president.

Stone, had already made a name for himself with exceptional commissions like Radio City and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the U.S. Embassy in Delhi, Stanford University's Medical Center, and also, by the way, Mepkin Abbey, formerly known as Mepkin Plantation, home of American magazine magnate Henry R. Luce of New York.

Mid-Century Modern, the Thomas Cooper Library design looked nothing like the buildings on the Horseshoe. As you might imagine, there was push back. "Too modern!" they said. "Doesn't blend in!" they said. "Fire him," said others.

But to the Board of Trustees credit, they understood that architecture is sometimes a leap of faith. When it works, it can herald in a new era and it can increase the quality of thought and of learning. Work began under Stone's design, and in 1959 the landmark library opened. In the following years, Stone designed The Kennedy Center, one of Washington's most recognized landmarks, as well as the General Motors Building right off the southeast corner of Central Park in New York City.

Architecture, in its most ambitious form, requires at least two things: an architect of great skill and vision, and a client with enduring faith and an uncompromising belief in excellence. Their relationship is forged with courage and with the combined will to create something that is enduring. But, it must be borne of excellence.

This brings us to the second decade of the 21st century—right now, and to the new Darla Moore School of Business. Today, we celebrate another leap of faith. I'm delighted that a relationship between an architect of great skill and vision, Rafael Viñoly, and a client with enduring faith and an uncompromising belief in excellence, Darla Moore and her university, found each other and created this new landmark.

This building makes a soaring statement about the University of South Carolina, and our state, and our future. It speaks volumes about what we believe an exceptional learning experience must be. It tells the world that we are prepared to inspire, to motivate, to innovate, and that we must preserve our fragile environment while doing so.

And while this building is magnificent to look at, for me, form must follow function. A great looking academic building—where anything less than great learning happens—is not so great. So, I'm most inspired that in this building there will be great teaching, great scholarship and great learning.

After all, what is La Scala without great opera? What is the National Archives building without the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence? What is Williams-Brice Stadium without its players and fans?

Rafael Viñoly and Darla Moore have given us a beautiful building. Now, it is up to us to fill it with dreams, ideas and accomplishments. I have no doubt that we are up to the task and, ladies and gentlemen, if you agree with me, let's give a cheer to the great future of this building, barely opened and already a landmark!

Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you an individual without whom we wouldn't be here today. She has been identified as one of the most powerful women in American business. She's known for her leadership and her affection for the Palmetto State—its big cities, its picturesque small towns, and everything in between.

What she is doing in Lake City is one of South Carolina's greatest modern success stories. If you haven't been to ArtFields, the nine day celebration of the arts held in Lake City, you absolutely must go next April!

Relative to her alma mater, she continues to be a beacon whose uncompromising belief in quality and excellence reverberate in our minds and hearts every single day.

I'm pleased to present to you Darla Moore.