Salutation by The Honorable Thomas W. Corbett Jr. '71
Distinguished guests, fellow alumni, students, and of course President Thayne. Thank you for inviting me on this very important day.
As the governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I bring greetings and best wishes on behalf of all citizens and their thanks for all Lebanon Valley College has done for our state in the 153 years since it was founded.
As a graduate of Lebanon Valley, I bring with me memories and a sense of personal gratitude. It was Lebanon Valley that awakened me to life’s potential. It was here that I met my wife and life’s partner. It was here that I learned one of the greatest lessons offered for free in the school’s motto drawn from John 8:32: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
When I left Lebanon Valley in 1971 I could never have dreamed that I would return one day as governor to welcome the arrival of its 18th president. But colleges are places that make dreams possible, they are all about possibility.
Dr. Thayne, I came to Lebanon Valley because one of your predecessors, Frederic Miller, met my father. My father worked for the administration of then-Governor Raymond Shaffer. Dr. Miller was named the state’s secretary of education. It was from him that my father learned of LVC and helped me discover what an excellent fit this school was for a young man entering into adulthood.
Every president leaves his or her mark on a school. Some erect buildings or establish new majors. Some build the endowment; others navigate the turbulence of a era. All of them help to shape young men and women, to show them that college is not only an education, it is a means to an education.
Young people enter this place ready to learn. They depart ready to learn still more and educated in how to do so. I discovered as much when Dr. Thayne visited my office recently. As we spoke, he took notes. This is a man for whom any information that might be of use will be retained. He doesn’t waste his words or those of others. He is an educated man who has learned the hardest lesson for some of us: When he needs help, he asks. When he can offer help, he gives.
Like me, Lewis Thayne was among the last generation of high school freshmen who took a then-mandatory Pennsylvania History Class. Like me, he was deeply influenced by the example of his father. Lewis Thayne’s father began as an elevator service repairman. He ended his career as a district manager. Raised during the Depression, he taught his son the value of a dollar, and the value of education. In Lewis Thayne, Lebanon Valley is welcoming a true son of Pennsylvania. Though he was educated at Rutgers and Princeton he returned to our commonwealth ready to combine the rigors of scholarship with the wisdom of practicality. His on-the-job experience augurs well for our school. He worked under John Fry at Franklin and Marshall College. I cannot think of a better model of an academic leader than John Fry and, maybe someday, another governor will be standing here saying the same of Lewis Thayne.
In a few moments, Dr. Thayne himself will lay out his vision for his tenure here at Lebanon Valley College. He will speak, in part, about making Lebanon Valley, and its students and alumni, ready for a century in which learning might be concentrated in four years, but must continue across the entire span of our lives.
I see Lebanon Valley and every institution of learning in our state as an essential partner to all of our citizens, enriching our present, building our future, and sharing the common goal of speaking the truths that free us from poverty and ignorance, advance us in prosperity and friendship, and give us all an understanding of our place in the wider world.
President Thayne, the commonwealth welcomes you, and as a proud alumnus of Lebanon Valley College, I bid you “Welcome Home.”