Text of President Pelton’s groundbreaking remarks


Emerson College President M. Lee Pelton delivered this speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new Los Angeles campus.

Thank you Henry and welcome to all of you.

And, of course, a very special thanks to Jackie Liebergott, my predecessor, and Rob Silverman, whose vision, tenacity and courage have made this day possible. 

More than twenty-five years ago, Emerson established a program that provided our undergraduates with the happy opportunity to study and work for a semester in Los Angeles. Through internships in diverse fields – set design, film and television editing and producing, talent management, public relations, political communication, to mention only a few, – and through engagement with talented faculty, many of whom are leaders in Los Angeles industries – thousands of our students have been able to explore their craft and find their way.  This program – truly one of a kind when it was established – has provided our students with a head start in life and in their livelihoods.

And now, today, we celebrate the first steps toward what will be an ambitious new endeavor that will further benefit our students, the fields we serve, and the city of Los Angeles itself.

In doing so, we extend Emerson’s distinctive curricular footprint across an entire continent, from the shores of one ocean to the shores of another, confident in our capacity to take full advantage of what Los Angeles is and what it will be, a city of brilliant light and unending promise – a city whose rich diversity of thought and people represents a perfect confluence of the ideas and hopes about the unfolding future of these United States.

This is a great city. 

We are proud to be here. We are proud once again – more than two decades later- to put a stake in the ground, another milestone on the path to living out our highest and most noble aspirations as one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning.  

Today, we make three commitments in establishing this new permanent home in Los Angeles. 

First, we commit to bring our culture of academic excellence to Los Angeles, amplifying and broadening those parts of our curriculum that cannot be easily duplicated in our main campus in Boston, a curriculum that seeks to take full advantage of what Los Angeles offers in the performing arts, visual and media arts, writing and publishing, marketing, communication, journalism and communication sciences. 

Second, we commit to the entertainment and other industries represented in our curriculum to engage with the Los Angeles business and civic communities in ways that provide them access to future leaders, with a sure faith that our integration of the liberal arts with our specialized disciplines, our collaborative learning, our innovative programs, our student-centered curriculum and our great faculty will nurture the people who will solve the problems and change the world, the next generation of engaged leaders who will lead in the face of change.   

And third, we commit to this neighborhood, to Hollywood and to the City of Los Angeles that we will be good neighbors, effective citizens and civic partners who will set about working where we can to renew and strengthen quality in these places, to improve culture so as to make its goodness available to all, not a just privileged few.

This is our covenant. We take it seriously. We will not retreat from it.  

It is an honor and a pleasure to be here with you today, representing the faculty, students and alumni who make up our commonwealth of learning. 

We look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead as this magnificent facility comes to life with people and programs in a few short years. 

Thank you very much.