David Bohnett Speeches

Welcome Remarks for University of Michigan Provost Teresa Sullivan

My partner, Tom Gregory, and I are pleased that you could join us this evening to welcome University of Michigan Provost Teresa Sullivan to Southern California. There are many alumni and friends of Michigan here in Los Angeles and this is a nice opportunity to get together to share our common interests, and to enjoy one another’s company.

My career as a political and community activist began 30 years ago when I was pursuing my graduate degree in Business at U of M. I was awarded a work study grant to help offset the cost of my tuition, and I chose to become a telephone hotline counselor for the University sponsored Gay Student Union. This was quite a unique opportunity in 1978, and, as is the case in so many areas of social justice, the University of Michigan has always taken a leadership role in fulfilling its core mission to serve all segments of our diverse society. Indeed, as most of you undoubtedly know, the University was recently engaged in two extended, noble, and courageous legal battles that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court to defend the University’s right to maintain its commitment to diversity.

Now, in 2008, it’s more important than ever to support institutions such as U of M that promote intelligent discourse and independent thinking. There has been an alarming increase in our country of religious based-bigotry and extreme political ideology that promote self interest vs. the common good. Some national political leaders promote creationism, usurping science and facts. It’s crucially important for the future of our nation that we support a broad academic curriculum that is independent from the influence of a government that has recently sought to suppress the truth and promote a culture of fear and insecurity. Universities provide hope for the future, and that hope is the one thing that our students and our fellow citizens currently need most.

We’re very fortunate to have Provost Sullivan here this evening to talk to us about the University and her unique role in that fine institution. For those of you who might not be aware, the Provost is the chief academic officer of the University and has the responsibility for the University’s academic and budgetary affairs.

Dr. Sullivan became Provost in June, 2006, and is also a Professor of Sociology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Dr. Sullivan’s CV is impressive, 25 pages long, as a matter of fact. She has received numerous grants and awards and has published an impressive number of articles and books, including ‘Marginal Workers, Marginal Jobs: The Under Utilized American Worker’ and ‘The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt’. She has spent her career studying the effects of bankruptcy, immigration, and the sociology of cultural institutions. It is my honor to welcome Dr. Sullivan here this evening and I invite her to make a few remarks to us.

Thank you very much.