Jimmy Carter photo

White House Fellows Remarks to Fellows for the 1976-77 and 1977-78 Programs and Members of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.

June 22, 1977

Hello, everybody. I apologize for being late; it's kind of a rare occasion in my schedule when I am. But we had the Prime Minister of Australia here, and the discussions were very deep and penetrating, concerning matters in the southeastern part of the Pacific, our relationship with the People's Republic of China and Japan, Korea, nuclear nonproliferation, trade; he wanted to give me a report on the Commonwealth meeting from which he's just come. So, the discussions did go a little longer than we anticipated, but I think it was well worthwhile.

I am very proud of you. This is a program, as you know, that was established in the early months of the Johnson administration through the inspired leadership and at the suggestion of John Gardner. And I think it's a rare occasion in our Nation's Government--history, when a man who has a brilliant idea that's innovative and constructive can come back several administrations later and help to keep the vigor and the quality of the program and to observe how it has continued beyond his own concept.

We've had a fine group of White House Fellows who have spanned the transition period between the administrations of President Ford and myself. And I know the trauma of that change was very difficult for some of you to assimilate it, but you've done well.

I hope that this has been an exciting experience for you to see the general change in tone, either progression or retrogression, in your judgment--you'll have to make that judgment. But I think it is a very fine occasion for you to see how two different administrations from two different parties can deal with the same basic questions that continue when Presidents change.

We have now completed, as you know, the selection of next year's White House Fellows, who will begin their service in September. They'll work for the members of the Cabinet, the senior White House staff members, and the Vice President.

There were 1,334 applicants who were screened, of whom 14 were chosen. And we have a distinguished panel for making the selection whose reputations are beyond reproach and beyond any doubt. I have not been involved at all in the selection process. I say that so that the 1,320 people who were not chosen-[laughter]--will know that I'm not responsible.

We have high hopes for you. In addition to the detailed knowledge that you will gain from observing the White House in operation, you'll also have a chance to participate in roughly 300 private discussions with leaders both in and out of government-in Government, in the executive and legislative branches in every phase of the administration of our own Nation's affairs.

So, it's a great credit to you that you have been chosen, and it's a great credit to John Gardner's chairmanship that the quality of our selection committee has been maintained. And I believe that it will be a great credit to our Nation, the service that you will provide. So, congratulations to all of you, and my sincere thanks again to John Gardner for conceiving this noble and beneficial idea and for helping to perpetuate its qualities.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2: 30 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, White House Fellows Remarks to Fellows for the 1976-77 and 1977-78 Programs and Members of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243932

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