Remarks by Timothy P. WhiteChancellor, The California State UniversityPresident Lynnette Zelezny Investiture (as prepared)California State University, BakersfieldMay 3, 2019
It's great to be back in Bakersfield. Whenever I'm on campus, I think back to 2013. I had just been appointed chancellor and had embarked upon a “learning tour" of the 23 Cal State campuses. I chose Bakersfield as my first stop on that tour.
I recall being struck by the impressive legacy the university had established in its relatively short history…by its dedication to student success and its connection to the larger community it serves. I remember my sense of optimism for the campus's future.
Today, six years later, as we celebrate the investiture of President Lynnette Zelezny, my optimism for Cal State Bakersfield has never been stronger.
President Zelezny is the rare leader who truly takes inspiration from those she serves. In the students on this campus – so many of whom she knows by name – she sees people with the courage to step forward and live their dreams…determined to be a force for positive change…and utterly undaunted by the challenges they may face.
Lynnette draws inspiration from this community. She and her husband John (whom she met at Humboldt State) were very intentional when they chose the Central Valley as their home more than 30 years ago. They chose the Central Valley because they saw it as a place to serve – a place where, if they worked hard – they could make a difference in the lives of others…every day.
Of course, Lynnette is – herself – an inspiration to countless others. She embraces the role, as a testament to the great mentors in her own life. She looks for the strengths and talents in those around her – students, faculty, staff – and is dedicated to providing them opportunities and support to reach their potential.
Lynnette is Cal State Bakersfield's first woman president, and that is consequential. The significance of this perhaps goes without saying, but nevertheless, I'd like to share this quick story:
Not long ago, Lynnette was grocery shopping in town. Of course, she was proudly wearing her CSUB Roadrunner lapel pin. (I'm told she's rarely seen without it.) She was in line next to a mother accompanied by her young daughter. Noticing the pin, the mother asked Lynnette if she worked at the university. Lynnette told her yes. When asked what her job was, she told her, “I'm the university president." The little girl's eyes widened a bit at this. Lynnette then took off the roadrunner pin and handed it to the girl as a gift. They said their goodbyes and parted ways, but not before Lynnette heard the girl proudly proclaim: “One day, I'm going to be a university president!"
Indeed, the impact of Lynnette's leadership will span generations.
President Zelezny is a compassionate leader with a clear vision for Cal State Bakersfield and its transformative power for students and community. With her intellect, depth of experience, boundless energy and unique ability to inspire – and draw inspiration from – those she serves…I can think of no better leader for this great university as it approaches its milestone 50th anniversary.
And now…my favorite part of the ceremony.
Lynnette, I invite you to join me at the podium.
By the authority granted to me by the Trustees of the California State University, I hereby invest you, Lynnette Zelezny, with the Office of President of California State University, Bakersfield, with all the honors, privileges, and most importantly the authority, responsibilities, and accountability pertaining thereto.