When I was a teenager my parents bought a cabin at Donner Lake. Over the ensuing 40 plus years it has become the center of our family, and we celebrate most important events there together. So it was no surprise when my brother and I were together at Donner Lake on New Years Eve of 1999. Both of us being just a bit crazy, it was also no wonder we decided to usher in the new millennium by jumping into the freezing lake at midnight. I can remember that night like it was last night, but instead of a new millennium, we are starting the second decade of this century.
And what a decade it has been. We witnessed firsthand the unthinkable - an attack on our homeland and a major American city under water. We saw the improbable, the Red Sox won the World Series and the world's greatest democracy elected its first African-American as president. We Tweeted each other and found new and old friends on Facebook. It was an "i" decade with the iPod and iPhone. We spent much of the decade embroiled in wars far from home. As the decade closes, we find ourselves in the grip of the worst depression that this state and nation has seen since the 30s.
Which brings me to a new decade and my New Year's resolutions.
I am thankful to have a job and the opportunity to work, and I resolve to do everything in my power to be sure that every Nevadan who can work has the opportunity to work and the skills to obtain meaningful work.
I am thankful to the taxpayers of Nevada for their support of higher education. I believe that a more educated citizenry will lead us out of the mess we are in, and I resolve to do all in my power to be efficient and accountable to the taxpayers for the funds they entrust to higher education.
I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the state at what I truly believe is a time of crisis and crossroads. I ask for the courage to make the tough decisions necessary to build the kind of state that will bring opportunities for our children and grandchildren for generations.
I am thankful for the thousands of Nevadans committed to rebuilding our state. The job will take all of us and I resolve to be guided in formulating higher education policy by principles of collaboration - within and among our institutions, with business and with the broader goals of the state.
The work ahead of us is neither easy nor quick. We did not arrive at our current economic state overnight and we will not recover soon. It will take sacrifice and hard work from all of us. It will also take a commitment from every Nevadan to take responsibility for the future of this state. For too long, we have outsourced the financing of this state to visitors, not realizing that in doing so we have outsourced control over our lives and the critical institutions that make this state our home. It is time for us to take back control of our state and our future.
It is also time for all of us to realize there is no free ride. This is something our parents and grandparents took for granted. Hard work, shared sacrifice and a sense of community built places they and we call home. We need to rededicate ourselves to these fundamental values in 2010 to build a new Nevada.
Together we will succeed in this great effort. There is no acceptable alternative.