Acceptance of the U.S. Midwest Award for Outstanding Achievement
The Four Seasons Hotel
120 East Delaware Place
January 24, 2015
Introduction and Acknowledgements
Thank you very much.
I truly am deeply honored to receive this award, and I want to express my most grateful thanks to Consul-General (Victoria) Walker, the staff of the Australian Consulate-General in Chicago, and to everyone involved with the G’Day USA Australia Day program.
I am pleased that my wife, Laurie, and our youngest daughter, Arabella, who was also born in Australia, could be here this evening as well.
I also want to thank Lee Hamilton for the immensely kind words he shared by video. As some of you may know, Lee served with great distinction as the representative for southern Indiana in the United States House of Representatives for 34 years. His service in Congress included terms as chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. Because of his wide-ranging expertise and his well-deserved reputation as a consensus-builder, American presidents from both political parties—from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama—sought Lee’s advice—to the degree that he was considered a de facto cabinet member in many of these administrations. Since leaving Congress, he has continued to serve in a wide range of major high-profile appointments, including as vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, and as a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Lee is a quintessential American statesman whose career in public service has reflected an overriding desire to do what is right for America and right for the world.
From Australia to the U.S.
I am also honored to receive this award as we celebrate Australia Day, which commemorates the founding of Australia and the country’s unique culture and spirit.
By pure coincidence, it was on Australia Day in 1997 that my family and I arrived in the United States, so the day also holds special significance for me as the anniversary of the beginning of the American phase of my career.
Whatever success I have had in the United States is the result, in large part, of my formative years in Australia, of the excellent education I received at the University of Queensland and at the Australian National University, and of the years I spent engaged in research and administration at ANU with outstanding colleagues and mentors that helped me to develop skills that have continued to serve me well.
Inspired by the Same Ideals
Of course, the deep connections between Australia and the United States extend well beyond our shared language, as the efforts of the G’Day USA program wonderfully demonstrate.
Australia is one of the United States’ closest allies, as President Barack Obama and others have noted, and our two countries share many foundational values and interests.
As President Obama remarked recently in a speech at the University of Queensland, my alma mater: “We (are) inspired by the same ideals of equality and opportunity (and)… we share the confidence and optimism …that we can leave this world a better, safer, more just place for future generations.”1
The commonalities between Australia and the U.S, of course, also include a deep commitment to education of the highest quality. And, indeed, providing such an education is one of the principal ways that we can promote equality, expand opportunity, and improve the world for future generations.
I am enormously proud to lead an institution that, for nearly 200 years, has been dedicated to doing just that through its fundamental missions of education and research, a university with ties to eight Nobel Prize winners, and an institution that continues to build upon traditions of excellence in areas ranging from music to medicine, from business to biology.
And I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues at Indiana University, in the Midwest, in Australia, and around the world to strengthen our collective efforts to expose students to the full range of human knowledge and to foster research and innovation that help to improve and transform our world.
Once again, I am truly honored to accept this award, and in doing so, I accept it on behalf of Indiana University and on behalf of Australian and American colleagues, past and present, who have done so much to foster the shared values of our two countries.
Thank you very much.