A New Future for Florida: Dedication of the UF Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona

Date: November 30th, 2012

Category: Machen, Speeches, Speeches 2012

Welcome!  Whether you are from across town in Orlando, across the state or across the country at La Jolla or elsewhere, we are pleased to have you.

As we all know from science, a paradigm shift can sometimes result in a quantum leap forward.  That is the guiding principle behind this beautiful building we are gathered today to celebrate.  It is the guiding principle behind Medical City.  And, it is the trajectory of the next chapter in the story of Orlando – and indeed, in the story of the state of Florida.

The University of Florida has built nearly 1,000 buildings in the 106 years since we opened in Gainesville, almost all of them on our main campus.  We also reach out with agricultural facilities in all of Florida’s 67 counties, including meaningful citrus research here in Central Florida.  This is our mission as a land-grant university.

Now, as the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act that established the land grants, we are taking that mission in an entirely new direction – the most visible example of which is right here, with UF’s first medical-research building outside our historic home.

With this significant investment of research funding and people here at Lake Nona, 112 miles from Gainesville, we join the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the other institutions at Medical City in another departure from tradition.  We alter our historic trajectories as proudly independent institutions.  We chart a new path as partners.

Each of these partners seeks to translate discoveries into products that help people.  Each seeks to accelerate the growth of Florida’s biotechnology economy and its high-skill, high-wage jobs.  With this new building, and with Medical City, we commit to a new future of achieving those goals, not separately as we have in the past, but together.

The vision of an international hub for biotechnology and the life sciences is, of course, a break with the tradition of Florida as the nation’s vacation destination.  But, let us remember that tradition, too, is rooted in a new direction – one that began right here in Orlando.

Forty-seven years ago this month, dignitaries from around the state gathered in this city for another historic launch.  Florida Governor Haydon Burns began the press conference, then turned the microphone over to the man everyone wanted to hear from.  That man was Walt Disney, who was in town to announce a project he called Disney World.

Walt Disney stressed that though Disney World might share some traits with the older Disney Land in California, it would be its own, utterly unique Florida creation.  

He said, and I quote, “I want life to create new things. You hate to repeat yourself.  I don’t like to make sequels to my pictures.  I like to take a new thing and develop a new concept.”

Not a repeat.  A new thing.  A new concept.  No better words capture the spirit of our gathering today. 

In the same way Disney World helped shape the Orlando and Florida of the 20th century, so this new building and Medical City will shape the Orlando and Florida of the 21st century– and the University of Florida looks forward to working with all of you as we make this quantum leap forward.  Thank you!

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