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Dedication Day Speech



  DR. LEVEY:   I'm Dr. Gerald Levey, I'm the Vice-Chancellor for Medical Sciences and Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and I want to thank all of you for coming this morning, and I extend a special welcome to Mrs. Nancy Reagan, First Lady.  (Applause)

Every building has a story; just ask the people who built it, or the people who conceived of the project, or those who hope to be served by it in the future.  If you were to talk to the thousands of people who played a role in bringing this building to life, you would hear thousands of different stories of what happened here.  As we dedicate this building, home to three different hospitals, the Main Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, 

the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, and the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, take just a few moments to imagine the people who transformed the original vision for this project into a reality.  From the architects to the construction workers, to the engineers, to the donors, to the doctors, to the patients, what you see before you today is the culmination of a truly collaborative process. 

It's been a long journey for us.  It's certainly been a long journey for me.  Not only has this project taken up nearly 20 percent of my life, but I seem to have lost about 20 percent of my hair in the process.  This is the biggest construction project in the University of California history, and we've had our share of tough challenges, whether it was getting enough funding, or keeping the construction on track, or incorporating new technologies into the building that weren't even invented when we first began this planning process.  But thanks to all that hard work we can now officially celebrate the completion of the major construction and open our doors so that all of you can preview these new hospitals. 

As you walk through the halls of the Ronal Reagan UCLA Medical Center, think about what you are seeing.  Think of all of the children who will be born here.  Think of the people who will come here for comfort, healing, and hope.  Think of the diseases that will be fought here.  Think of the young doctors and nurses who will learn their life's calling here.  Think of the medical research breakthroughs that will be uncovered here and echo across the globe.  Think of the countless miracles that will happen inside these walls.  I know I do, when I walk through this hospital. 

We're now entering the final lap.  After an aircraft carrier is christened, the US Navy spends the next year testing every piece of equipment and outfitting the final interior touches.  So it is with hospitals.  Our new building cannot and will not open until the entire staff has been fully trained and until every last piece of equipment, from an MRI machine to a light switch, is fully operational.  That means that over the next 9 to 12 months we'll need to stay incredibly focused.  We'll be fitting up the internal systems, installing and testing the clinical and IT equipment, and most importantly, training our 10,000 doctors, employees and volunteers to make sure everyone is comfortable in their new home. 

It's an honor to be celebrating this project with all of you today, and humbling to think about what this building holds for tomorrow.  Together we've constructed a new foundation to build upon UCLA's traditions of medical education, groundbreaking research, and unparalleled patient care.  The story of this building, of our building, has just begun.  Thank you very much.  (Applause)

Thank you.  I would now like to introduce our distinguished Acting Chancellor, Norman Abrams.  Dr. Abrams is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago's School of Law.  He has been a member of our faculty for 48 years, and served as Vice-Chancellor for Academic Personnel and was Interim Dean of the Law School during his time here.  He has done a simply extraordinary job as Acting Chancellor, replacing-and I see him in the audience --- our outstanding Chancellor, Albert Carnesale, who came back and is here today.  (Applause)

DR. ABRAMS:  Thank you, Gerry.  Good morning.  This is an extraordinary moment in the history of UCLA and the City of Los Angeles.  We're here today to provide a preview of one of the most advanced health care facilities in the world, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  I'm so very pleased to welcome First Lady Nancy Reagan as we dedicate this beautiful building, bearing the name of her husband, President Ronald Reagan.  I also want to extend a special welcome to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor Gray Davis, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  Also here with us today are Supervisors Yvonne B. Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky, as well as Councilman Jack Wieiss, University of California Regents Judith Hopkinson and Sherry Lansing, and UC Vice-President Rory Hume. 

So many people have had a hand in making possible the designing, the planning, and building of our new hospital.  I want to highlight, however, the vision of UCLA Chancellor Emeritus Charles Young, who was unable to be with us today, and the leadership of Chancellor Emeritus Albert Carnesale, who is here, and of course the special devotion and the role of Vice-Chancellor and Dean Gerald Levey, whose life has been totally dominated; he has been carrying this project on his back for more than 10 years.  These and many, many others have made what started as a dream and a gleam in the eyes of a few, finally into the reality that you are going to have an opportunity to see today. 

Ronald Reagan once said, "A people that can reach out to the stars, has decided that the problems of human misery can be solved, and they will settle for nothing less."  That statement beautifully captures the mission of this beautiful hospital.  Inside this marvelous new facility, researchers will strive tirelessly to uncover cures for the world's most devastating diseases.  Physicians and other health care professionals will work diligently to treat illnesses and relieve suffering.  Lives will be saved.  The quality of life of thousands-nay, over the course of time millions-will be improved.  Truly, miracles will happen. 

And all of this will be possible because of an extraordinary partnership between UCLA and the community, between the public and the private, between the University and many individuals.  Extraordinarily generous individuals have come forward and augmented federal and state funds, enabling us to have designed and built a new type of hospital that will provide a new level of superior health care for the community, the city, and ultimately the nation.  UCLA serves the nation.  We are deeply grateful to all of those who have made this possible. 

On behalf of UCLA I also want to express our appreciation for the tremendous amount of hard work and devotion on the part of so many that have gone directly into the project; the builders, the staff, others, an effort of great magnitude and enormous complexity.  Every beam that has been placed, every piece of highly advanced medical equipment that has been installed, and every wall and surface that has been painted or covered with soothing colors, contribute to the creation of a special environment in which healing and comforting will take place. 

Now it is my very special privilege to introduce someone who I know has a great appreciation for the University of California and UCLA's mission as a pubic university, and its devotion to improving the quality of life for all the people of California.  A very special friend of the University and UCLA, please welcome the Governor of the State of California, the Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger.  (Applause)

GOVERNOR:  Thank you very much, Chancellor Abrams, for your kind introduction, and thank you all for being here today.  I would also like to thank First Lady Nancy Reagan and Governor Gray Davis, who was actually responsible for committing almost 50 million dollars for this facility during your administration, so he's the one that should get a lot of the credit for making this happen.  (Applause)

And I thank also Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for being here today, and thank all of you.  This is a great day for celebration today, as we have heard before.  I am honored to be here today with all of you to dedicate this great, great building, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  This is a proud moment for California, and it is an exciting new chapter in UCLA's Medical Center's five decades of excellence.  We are adding another world class medical center to our state, and we are combining an incredible array of modern medicine, with this spectacular I.M. Pei architecture to provide terrific care in a beautiful setting.  The Center's 520 new beds will be supported by the best medical research, the best medical technology, the best doctors, and the best medical care available anywhere today.  This facility will also be supported by 26,000 tons of steel, to make sure that it can withstand a greater than 8.0 earthquake, and also withstand natural disasters or manmade disasters.  So this medical center will be prepared. 

This amazing facility offers the highest level of readiness and the highest quality of care anywhere in the world, and it is that kind of care that I want all Californians to have access to.  We are working now on the reforms of our health care system to make that possible, and I want to express my gratitude to all of the people here at UCLA and to all of the rest of the University of California campuses who are helping us with that agenda.  Just like they use their expertise to heal the sick, they are lending us their knowledge as we work to make sure that everyone here in California has health care, and that we go and fix our broken health care system. 

Now, President Reagan would have been thrilled to see this fantastic facility being built right here in California, and I am very thrilled that his name is on such a cutting edge medical center, the kind of center that represents the absolute best of California.  Under one roof, this stunning new center allows UCLA to continue its mission of excellence in education, in research, and in medical treatment.  So the Ronald Reagan Medical Center will provide great comfort and care to countless Californians in years ahead.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause)

DR. LEVEY:  Thank you very much, Governor.  It is now my pleasure to introduce someone on this stage who needs no introduction, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  He is our illustrious, amazing, talented mayor, and a good friend of UCLA and, I might add, a graduate of UCLA.  (Applause)

We couldn't be more pleased that he is here this morning to help us celebrate, and I hope, Mr. Mayor, in the future, when you speak and list the city's important attractions and its crown jewels, you will include the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  I'm proud to introduce Antonio Villaraigosa.  (Applause)

MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA:   Thank you, Gerry, for that very generous introduction.  Thank you for your friendship.  I know nobody is happier than you, and prouder than you, that we're finally here.  And I can tell you that Chancellor Abrams and Carnesale are also very, very excited today.

This couldn't be a prouder moment for me, someone who came to this great institution of higher learning some 30 odd years ago now-35 years ago, I guess the number is.  And I can tell you, as someone who graduated from an institution like UCLA, an institution that changed my life, to come back as a former Regent, the Speaker of the California State Assembly, and now Mayor, I couldn't be prouder to be with all of  you.  I can tell you that this medical center, as you said, Gerry, is a center that I know very, very well.  I spent a lot of time here.  I'm very healthy, but for some reason I've had a number of opportunities to visit, to be treated by some of the best physicians not just in the United States, but in the world. 

And we are so fortunate today to dedicate three hospitals that are part of a medical center that are going to be second to none anywhere west of the Mississippi, and in many ways second to none anywhere, not just in the United States but the world, and to be here, dedicating this Medical Center in memory of a man who in my time in public life probably best represents the hope and the optimism that is the American spirit, Ronald Reagan.  (Applause)

And it's fitting that we would name this center after President Reagan, because in many ways, what is a medical center if it isn't about hope and optimism, the hope and optimism of a cancer victim who, with their family, is praying for a cure?  The hope and optimism of somebody who's been injured and paralyzed, and the hope that comes with spinal research and stem cell research?  The hope and optimism of a family of a child who's afflicted with a disease, that can't get the appropriate treatment except here at UCLA? 

And so to be here with all of you at this dedication, to be here at a hospital that has no peer anywhere in the United States, here in the City of the Angels, couldn't be a prouder moment for me.  And I am very, very excited on behalf of all the elected officials who are here, many of whom also graduated from UCLA.  This couldn't be a prouder moment for me to be here with Governor Schwarzenegger, my friend and colleague, Governor Davis, my Governor during the years when I was Speaker, and we allocated the money for this hospital. 

It couldn't be a prouder moment to be here with all of you, the very generous benefactors, the people who raised the money.  Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who we named one of our hospitals for; the Mattel Corporation, Jerry Perenchio, Jim Wiatt, all of the people who have raised money on the quiet for this day to happen.  Thank you all so much for your enormous generosity, thank you for caring about the sick, and willing to participate in this healing that is this dedication today.  Thank you all very much.  (Applause)

DR. LEVEY:  It is now my pleasure to introduce former Governor Gray Davis.  And it's very fitting that Gray Davis is here today.  He's been a wonderful friend to the University of California, to the University of California Health Care System here at UCLA, and to me in particular.  When we started this project more than a decade ago, Governor Davis' support was instrumental in us receiving the 44 million dollars that served as the state's match to FEMA, and to provide 180 million dollars in lease revenue bonds to this project.  Without the help of Gray Davis, I don't know this project could have been accomplished.  So Gray, thank you so much for being here, and thank you for being such a good friend.  (Applause)

GOVERNOR DAVIS:  Thank you, Dr. Levey.  It's very nice to see the seeds we planted back in 1999 are flowering now for everyone to enjoy.  And please take the tour, if you do nothing else.  You will be so proud of this great institution.

I am very privileged to share this podium with my friend Governor Schwarzenegger.  Thank you, Governor, for those kind remarks.  With our former First Lady Nancy Reagan; thank you, Mrs. Reagan, for being here.  And with so many public officials; the Mayor, two Supervisors, both of fiends of mine, Jack Weise, several Regents, including Sherry Lansing and Judith Hopkinson, and lots and lots of people-former Chancellor Carnesale.  I'm just thrilled to be part of the opening of this great institution.  We honor a terrific leader, Ronal Reagan, a former governor, and the 40th President of the United States. 

But I want to share with you a little story about how this day came to adorn this great university.  Gerry Levey called me two weeks after I'd been inaugurated as governor, and-this will be my only partisan note-it had been 20 years since the state had elected a Democrat-and Gerry said, "Governor, we're going to build a new medical center down in Los Angeles, and unless you object, we'd like to call it the Ronald Reagan Medical Center."  So I said, "Well, that's a great idea.  But have you given any thought to calling it the Governor Pat Brown Medical Center?"  And he said, "Actually, we have, and we agree that Pat Brown was a great governor, but Ronald Reagan was a great president."  I said, "Gerry, you make a very good point.  Name the building the Ronald Reagan Medical Center."  (Applause)

This is a great facility.  Although I never went to UCLA, I grew up right around the corner.  My first job was to represent this great institution in the Assembly; I lived five minutes from it.  I've always been very close to UCLA, and so I was very proud when the Speaker and other Legislators voted to provide public funding not only for this great hospital but for the Institute of the Study of Nanosystems, which will also provide groundbreaking research across the way, and we open later this year.  And, because I recognize how important this university is to the lives of Californians.  It saves millions of lives.  It enriches the quality of their lives.  It gives them hope and opportunity.  And the reason UCLA has been singled out by US News and World Report as the best hospital in the western United States for 17 years in a row, is because more than any other hospital in our region, we take the benefits of groundbreaking research and we make it available to the patients that we're caring for.  Other people do good research; they just publish it.  We actually make sure that patients benefit from it.  So that's why I'm so excited about the great work that this hospital is going to do. 

And Mrs. Reagan, they say the best way to honor the memory of a great person is to do good works in their name.  And I am confident that UCLA will honor your husband's memory by providing extraordinary care to every patient that walks through these doors.  God bless you all.  (Applause)

DR. LEVEY:  It is now a personal pleasure for me to introduce our next speaker, Rabbi David Wolpe, particularly so since Barbara and I are two of his congregants at Sinai Temple.  A prolific writer with six books and dozens of articles in major publications such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Rabbi Wolpe was voted one of the 50 Most Influential Jewish Americans in 2004 by the Forward Newspaper.  No stranger to academia, he taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the University of Judaism and Hunter College.  The Rabbi Wolpe is here today to speak in a very different role as a former patient at the UCLA Medical Center.  Rabbi?  (Applause)

RABBI WOLPE:  It was four years ago-actually, at the opening of a facility, I'm sorry to say-that I was speaking, and I suffered a grand mal seizure, and I was rushed to UCLA Medical Center where I had emergency neurosurgery.  Because the tumor turned out to be benign, and my life was saved, I'm here to tell you a story. 

The story is from the Talmud, about two men who are walking by the ruins of what was once a magnificent building, and one of them, mindful of the ancient equivalent of real estate prices, said, "Oh, my God, how much money was invested in this place?  And now look at it, it's a ruin."  And the other one corrected him and he said, "That's never the question.  The question is, how many souls were invested in this place?" 

And that's my question to you this morning, is how many souls are invested in this place?  Because to build a hospital is to be sure an act of expertise, and also an act of tremendous expenditure of what we euphemistically call ‘resources'.  But it is also an act of faith.  It's an act of faith, first of all, in the ingenuity and the expertise of doctors and health care workers who will make this possible.  It's an act of faith in the passionate purpose that brings everybody here together this morning.  It's an act of faith also in the intangibles, the things that spark us to achieve in ways that help us hope, and will enable us to heal. 

So how many souls are invested in this place?  The answer is we do not yet know, because for all the souls that are invested in it now, there are all those people who aren't here, people who will one day suffer some crisis, or receive that terrifying phone call that says, "Your test doesn't look quite the way I would like," or "We're concerned about your results."  And all of a sudden your world comes crashing down, and you're terrified for everything you love, and everyone who loves you.  And all of those spectral presences of the future who will come to this place so that they too may one day be able to tell their stories, they're all invested here today as well. 

It is possible that not everyone understands that.  It is possible that people who don't understand that will one day come here and be grateful for this place, though they may not know it today.  But we know.  And because we do, on behalf of all of those people, those who are here and those who are yet to be here, I want to say, on my own behalf, and for all of them, thank you and God bless you.  (Applause)

DR. LEVEY:  C.C. Pei definitely wins today's gold star for stamina and endurance.  Earlier this week C.C. flew from New York to attend Friday's commencement ceremonies for the  School of Medicine, where he received the UCLA Medal from Norm Abrams.  He then flew back to the East Coast to attend his daughter's graduation from Andover Academy, and back yesterday with his wife Beatrice, he flew back for this morning's event.  C.C., thank you so much for that.  Even by your standard, an extraordinary effort. 

We are so grateful to C.C. and to his father, I.M. Pei, for their vision and artistry in what they have created here at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  As the citation for the medal says, "For UCLA you have designed a centerpiece for the medical and scientific breakthroughs that enable a renowned public research university to enhance the wellbeing of mankind.  It's now an honor for me to ask C.C. Pei to make a few comments.  (Applause)

MR. PEI:  Madame First Lady Reagan, Governor Schwarzenegger, Chancellor Abrams, Dean Levey, Mayor Villaraigosa, Governor Davis and Rabbi Wolpe, I am honored to be up here amongst you to take part in this great day.  And it probably took me a long time just to read all those name off to you.  I believe that I'm really here as a spokesperson for the entire team that collaborated to make this project.  Between-and I can see a lot of them over here, around this room, and a lot of them aren't even here, probably should be.  But my friends, of course, the architects at Perkins & Will and RBB, MFI, and so many other people, if I tried to read out all those names-I have the time, but I don't think that you do, there are so many of them.  I did, however, want to just mention a few people that are not here anymore, from Mike Carp to Sarah Jensen, Pete Blackmun, all of whom had a great to do with this, the making of this building.  So I think that that's really what I wanted to say here, is that I'm not-I'm probably the person here just who represents everybody else, and I'm very honored to be there. 

Dr. Levey mentioned that I have been doing a little bit of transcontinental travel in the last few days, and that's true.  And one of the things that I found to be very interesting was the fact that I attended two graduation exercises.  And as you know, graduation exercises, they're called commencements.  And they're really called commencement because in fact it is the beginning.  And I think that this building really represents the beginning of something new, and I hope wonderful for UCLA, the Ronald Reagan Hospital, for the Medical Center, for the Geffen Medical Center, for the University, for the State of California, and in fact for the entire world. 

Having been to these graduation ceremonies, I was reminded that we frequently talk about arts and letters.  And some people might think that architects represent, from what we do, we represent the arts.  And doctors, for what they do, they represent science.  I'm sorry, arts and sciences.  But in fact, I think that what is so wonderful about working here at UCLA is that you have something which is a combination of the two, that we always like to say that architecture is a part of the whole healing process.  Of course, the medicine is the major part, but we would like to believe that we bring something in the design of the building that helps the doctors do their job.  And I think, at the same time, that what the doctors are doing is really an art.  So I would like to just close just by saying, think about that-here we are in the month of June, which is graduation month in most places, anyway-and think about what it means to combine the arts and the sciences.  Thank you very much.  (Applause)

DR. ABRAMS:  I would like to ask at this point Mrs. Reagan, Governor Schwarzenegger, Governor Davis, Mayor Villaraigosa, and Supervisors Burke and Yaroslavsky, and Councilman Jack Weise, and Dr. Levey, to join me at the podium. 

It's my privilege to present a special proclamation to all of you in honor of this celebratory moment.  And we will be giving similar proclamations to others who have made a special contribution to the building of the Ronald Reagan Medical Center.  I want to read the Proclamation:  "On this day, the 4th of June, 2007, we are proud to unveil the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, and Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatry Hospital at UCLA.  We are proud to unveil a world class medical center designed especially to foster a healing and supportive patient environment.  This building will stand as a monument to former and future patients and their families, to the people of Los Angeles, and all of California.  To the federal, state and local leadership who supported the rebuilding efforts, to the architects and designers who created a calm and caring environment, to the generous benefactors who helped to make it all possible, and to the entire UCLA medical community who worked together every day to advance the field of medicine for future generations while healing people today.  May this be a place to cure where possible, and to care always." 

The Proclamation is signed Norman Abrams, Acting Chancellor, UCLA, and Gerald S. Levey, Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause)

Thank you all for being here today and sharing in this landmark moment of celebration for UCLA and for our city.  Dr. Levey?

DR. LEVEY:  Thank you, Norm.  Certainly those are words that we are committed to live by.  This celebration would not be complete without acknowledging the extraordinary personal contributions of a small group of individuals who truly allowed us to reach this day through their time, generosity, and commitment. 

A very special thank you to Jerry Perenchio, who spearheaded the effort to name the Medical Center in honor of President Reagan, and is a great man on his own.  (Applause)

To Joe (Inaudible) and Bob Eckert, who were instrumental in the creation for the Mattel Children's Hospital, God bless you and thank you for what you did.  (Applause)

And last, but certainly not least, to Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who are extraordinary supporters of UCLA, some of my dearest, dearest friends, and most especially they named our Neuropsychiatric Hospital.  God bless both of you.  (Applause)

In just one minute we will literally open the doors of this magnificent building and invite you inside for refreshments, and the opportunity to preview a few key elements of the hospital.  We have many knowledgeable people stationed throughout the lobby to help guide you.  I also hope you will take the opportunity to say good-bye and thank you to David Callender, who for the past three years has been my close colleague as Associate Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System.  He's been very involved with me for the planning of this hospital.  David will be leaving us in a few weeks to take up his new position as president at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and I hope that you'll stop by and wish David well in his new endeavor.  At the same time as we're greeting you in the lobby, I hope you'll also say hello to David Feinberg, who is taking David's place as Associate Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the UCLA Hospital system at the end of this month. 

In closing, I want to thank all of you here on the stage and in the audience for joining us today in the prologue to this building's story and for helping us celebrate the future of medicine at UCLA.  And if I could ask you indulgence, I would request that everyone please remain seated until all of our guests on the stage have had the opportunity to exit.  Welcome again to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  (Applause)