Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy Caring Community Conference, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On behalf of President Delaney it is my honor to welcome you to UNF.

I would like to reflect just for a moment on the concept of a center. A center does not exist in isolation. Rather, a center requires that there be entities arrayed around it, whether they are in stasis or in motion. Without such encircling entities a center is merely a point in space. It is the center which exerts the centripetal force that enables these entities to cohere, that puts them into relationship with one another where before they may have coexisted oblivious or indifferent to but at the very least independent of one another. That is the function that our Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy has begun to serve in Northeast Florida. In a relatively short while I have witnessed it evolve from a compelling but disembodied vision to an embodied initiative with real gravitational force. I commend my colleague Dr. Yank Coble for articulating the aspiration, and O’Neal Douglas, John Delaney, Pam Chally and the other center architects for designing an organization that has now begun to make real progress in galvanizing the phenomenal number of heretofore discrete medical and medically related enterprises of this region into a coordinated system. So deployed, they have vastly more potential to significantly advance the quality of health and thus the quality of life in Northeast Florida and beyond. This initiative is not just timely; in fact, it is critical to the future of Jacksonville. For that reason I am especially proud that the center is itself housed at the University of North Florida, the place, as my friend Steve Halverson has put it, where Jacksonville comes together to think. In facilitating the work of the center we are thus fulfilling the purpose of UNF to serve as North Florida’s university. Again, on behalf of the university I congratulate, appreciate, and stand ready to support your efforts.