Gregory D. Bunch's 2009 Vision & Visionaries Acceptance Speech
Before I begin my remarks I would like to congratulate all of tonight's honorees.
I have to tell you this is truly a special occasion for me and my family tonight to be recognized as one of the 2009 recipients of the Vision & Visionaries Award. What you may not know about me, only a few people who know my history, is that this is a long way from 1632 Concord Street, which is the duplex apartment that I grew up in in San Bernardino with my mom and my four siblings. And, so, I would be remiss if I didn't take time to thank everyone who had a hand in my receiving tonight's award.
It's hard to believe that my relationship with Cal State Fullerton began 3 1/2 decades ago, and has touched three generations of my family with the latest being my oldest daughter, Alexandra, who is currently a junior on campus and is due to graduate with the class of 2010. And, I also have to share with you, she doesn't know that I'm going to say this, but she just had her 21st birthday on Wednesday and I have to tell you, as a father, as a single dad, I've been a single dad for about 12 years, to hear your daughter on the phone talking to one of her friends, and this happened this afternoon, she said: "Girl, I told him I'm 21 now."
And, secondly, it really kind of touched my heart as we entered the pavilion tonight. She saw the server with the champagne and she looked at me and said, "Dad, may I?"
It's like: "Absolutely, baby, absolutely."
But, I also want to mention that I have someone waiting in the wings. My youngest daughter, Natalie, who's finishing up her second year at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, and I'm truly hopeful that she will also choose to become a Titan and bleed the blue and orange.
During the past 35 years, I have watched Cal State Fullerton transform itself from Cal State Who? into one of the most progressive and forward thinking universities of the country with a distinguished and accomplished list of graduates that would rival any Division 1 school or Ivy League institution.
During the past few weeks, while I was preparing for tonight, I tried to take a review of the past 35 years looking for some of the highlights and some of the life-altering moments, and I have to tell you, I've had my share of highs and I've had my share of lows. But, the one thing that seemed to be consistent and permeate all of my successes was the word "opportunity."
And, so, the dictionary describes opportunity as a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.
I particularly like the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said: "If you prepare yourself, you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears."
I would like to spend the next couple of minutes trying to help you understand the depth of my loyalty to Cal State Fullerton. You see, where I grew up in the projects in San Bernardino, the mortality rate was very, very high for young African American males and, so, had this university not opened its door to me, I can assure you that I wouldn't be standing on this stage today or probably not be alive at all.
Number 2: Cal State Fullerton, by opening its doors to me, helped me become the first graduate in my family because we didn't talk about going to college and, I'm sure for many of the people in the room tonight, going to college was a foregone conclusion. And, so, when you come from that environment, to be able to have an opportunity to pursue higher education, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this.
Cal State Fullerton taught me a set of values that helped accelerate my own maturation and development. The word discipline seems to ring loud in my ears. For without discipline, nothing happens. Personal accountability I learned on campus and my professors and faculty, they made sure that I understood that. It's OK to question the status quo, to question and challenge.
Number 3: To stretch myself. To take on more than I think I'm capable of.
And, number 4: Service and giving.
And, finally, in closing, I know that I am speaking, I'm preaching to the choir, based upon the people who are in this room, but if you are within the sound of my voice and you can attribute your current success or your current level of income to the education that you received here on campus, I would like to encourage you to give something back because there are other students, other people out there who are looking for the exact same opportunity that I received, that you received. And, we, I, sit on the philanthropic board with Margaret, and there was a startling number that was shared yesterday. That we will end up having to turn away anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 incoming freshman, and you know what, guys? Due to the current budget crisis, that is really a travesty. So, I am here prepared to kind of put my money where my mouth is again.
Where is Coach Bob Burton? Bob, come join with me. Where are you?
Is Bob here? Come on up here. Join me.
And, keep in mind, that none of these decisions are made in a vacuum because, when you have two daughters, you know they tend to govern kind of where the dollars are spent in the household.
But, Bob, please, on behalf of the Bunch family, as I said, if I lived 100 years, there's no way that I could begin to repay the gratitude and the opportunity that this institution has given me. So, what I'd like to do is to present you with half of a $10,000 pledge from the Bunch family to be used to, hopefully, find another student athlete who could use the assistance, buy some balls, buy some inside outside jerseys. But, I just want to let you know that when we talk about giving and service, it's one thing to talk about it and it's another thing to kind of step up.
So, thank you so much for this award tonight, and I appreciate it.
Thanks a lot.