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Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Dr. Frederick L. Hovde on His Retirement as President of Purdue University

June 24, 1971

Mr. Toastmaster, Governor Whitcomb, Secretary Hardin, Secretary Richardson, Mayor Lugar, all of the distinguished guests here at the head table, and all of the guests and friends of Purdue and of Fred Hovde:

I was just thinking as I heard that number how nice it would sound in the Rose Bowl some time.1

I understand that my remarks are going to delay your dinner, so I will make them brief. But I appreciated the opportunity that was extended to me to attend this dinner to pay my respects, speaking for all of the people of the United States, to a great university and to one of our truly great educational leaders in America. I do speak for all the people of the United States in this capacity, and I do so with great feeling and a certain amount of experience with regard to the role of this university in America, and the role of this man for his country in many capacities, and also with this university.

You know, when you speak about a man, you learn a lot of things about him you didn't know. I knew before that Fred Hovde, back in 1928, played with Bronko Nagurski, and that he was so good that he scored more points even than Nagurski. He was the leading scorer in the Big Ten. Unfortunately, he was playing for Minnesota, rather than Purdue, that year.

Nevertheless, he was an All-American, so that impressed me a great deal, never having made the team myself--at Whittier. [Laughter]

I knew, too, that he had been a Rhodes Scholar, and anyone who could be an All-American and then go on and be a Rhodes Scholar has to have a wonderful combination of brains and physical ability.

I knew, too, of his service in World War II in the most secret projects against the Nazis, service that perhaps could not even now be talked of in declassified terms because it was of such a highly important nature, and service that only a man with his background was able to perform. Only a very few were chosen, and because of what they did, the war was made shorter and victory came sooner, and he was one who helped.

I know, too, that he has done many other things. I have served on a board with him of one of the great mutual funds. And I know his business experience and the value of his counsel and the wisdom that I saw in those years that I served with him on that board.

These are personal recollections that I have. And then I think of what we think this man will be most remembered for. Well, those who remember football will remember him for that. Others who think of his service in war will remember him for that. But I think on a night like this that the Nation will remember him for the monument that he really leaves, and that monument is 80,000 men and women. Eighty thousand men and women have graduated from Purdue in the 25 years he has served as president.

They have gone forth throughout this land, throughout this world as a matter of fact, serving the cause of progress, the cause of understanding. They have been men and women with brains, good educations; but more than that, they have been men and women with character, and it is that that Fred Hovde stands for: brains and character. That is the tradition he leaves with Purdue, and with America.

Speaking as one who has traveled much in the world, both in official capacities and unofficially, I know the work of Purdue graduates in countries far away in other lands, in Colombia, in Brazil, in Argentina, in Afghanistan. I know the work in the United States. I will not belabor that, but simply say that this university has made an enormous contribution to America and an enormous contribution to the world. And this man who led it so well, therefore, deserves the appreciation not just of those who know Purdue, but those who must speak for America, as I am honored to speak today.

Now I, consequently, was trying to think of something appropriate to present Dr. Fred Hovde on this occasion, and so I decided to make two presentations.

First, I understand that he is really not retiring; he is retiring as president of the university, but will continue in other capacities with the university and will serve his Nation in many other ways. You can see he is a young man; he has so much time left.

I also, however, know that he is an avid golfer; he loves golf; he is a good golfer. And so I am going to present him first with the Presidential golf ball. It is a very special golf ball. It has the Presidential Seal on it, and it has my name written on it, a signature. I gave one yesterday to the Vice President. I told him, "Please, just putt with it."

But to show you that I know Fred Hovde, you can hit it.

Now, in a more serious vein, I want to present something to Fred Hovde, as this great American that he has been and still is, and will continue to be in the years ahead, a special certificate that we have developed for this occasion and for this man.

I shall read it to you, present it to him, and that will conclude my remarks, and the dinner can go forward:

"June 24, 1971, the White House.

"The President of the United States of America presents this certificate of recognition to Dr. Frederick Lawson Hovde. As scholar, educator, adviser to government, and for 25 years university president, you have led Purdue with vision and wisdom and contributed with exceptional distinction to the enrichment of American life."

1 The President was referring to "Hail Purdue," played at his request by the Purdue Ceremonial Band just prior to his remarks.

Note: The President spoke at 7: 21 p.m. in the Indianapolis-Hilton Hotel, Indianapolis, Ind.

Jack Scott, managing editor of the Lafayette Journal and Courier, was toastmaster for the dinner.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Dr. Frederick L. Hovde on His Retirement as President of Purdue University Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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