”Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”
That’s a quote from Roberto Clemente, the Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. When I was growing up, he was my favorite player in my favorite sport, baseball.
What made him so admirable was that Roberto Clemente was an amazing human being as well as an amazing athlete. Major League Baseball knew how special he was, so it created the Roberto Clemente Award, which honors that player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”
So why is the president of a leading technological university talking about baseball players and good humanitarians?
The first reason is that one of our core principles here at Florida Tech is to create global citizens. Those are the young women and men who are well rounded and have the intellectual curiosity, good nature and proper education to excel in our increasingly diverse world.
That was Roberto Clemente.
And the second reason: in mid-October, at our Homecoming Gala, we honored an alumnus who embodies the very best that the Roberto Clemente Award recognizes – so much so that he was nominated for it eight times and won it in 2010. And we are so proud to call Tim Wakefield our own.
Why? Because he is considered not just a great baseball played, not just an All-Star knuckleballer, not just an individual who was a great teammate. He is also considered one of the most caring, loving special individuals who played Major League Baseball
The first few times I spent time with him, I said, ‘This guy can’t be real!’ Nobody with his credentials – two-time World Series champion, Red Sox Hall of Famer, and so on – can be such a down-to-earth, caring human being who treats everyone the same. But he is.
And what has me so proud to lead this university is that I’ve met dozens and dozens of alumni, and though they may not have been All-Star baseball players, they are certainly, like Tim, loving, caring and incredibly successful people.
So as your new president, I salute all of our alumni and look forward to growing your ranks with the sustained excellence and well-rounded individuals we are fostering here at Florida Tech.