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Distinguished Citizen Award Ceremony

Mountaineer Area Council, Boy Scouts of America

Prepared Remarks
March 9, 2015

Good evening, and thank you all for coming out this evening.

It is, indeed, a great honor to receive this award from the Mountaineer Area Council, whose members uphold the highest Scouting ideals.

As a University president for more than three decades, I have received many honors. After a while, I think, just managing to survive in academia for so long earns you a few awards.

But, seriously, I learned my survival skills as a Boy Scout. And receiving an honor from my fellow Scouts means so much to me, because the Boy Scouts meant so much to me growing up.

As a boy in tiny Vernal, Utah, my life had four pillars: My family, my faith, my school — and Boy Scouts.

Participating in Boy Scouts gave me intellectual stimulation, discipline and the ability to work under pressure.

Working to earn the rank of Eagle Scout taught me goal-setting, perseverance and the rewards of leadership.

The lessons I learned in Boy Scouts served me well throughout my life and career.

As a matter of fact, Wikipedia’s Eagle Scout entry lists me as a noted example, along with Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg and others.

I wonder which of us would people find most inspirational — the first man on the moon, the legendary director or the guy in the bow-tie?

But as all of you who have earned the Eagle Scout rank know, it is not a walk in the park — or even a hike in the woods.

I really struggled with my swimming and life-saving, so I would not recommend that you start to drown or have a major medical crisis in my presence.

I got so discouraged that my dad finally offered to earn his Eagle rank if I would just finish mine.

We all need a mentor sometimes — that’s what Boy Scouts is all about.

And as a University president, I have seen how the lessons I learned as a Scout bring out the best in other young men, too.

Boy Scouts are leaders. They work effectively in teams. They value community service. They hone their mental and physical fitness.

And we take education seriously. Surveys have shown that Scouts are more likely than their non-Scout peers to earn As in class, to graduate from high school, and to earn college degrees.

Scouting changes lives, and Scouting supporters like you fuel that transformational work.

I am proud of my association with the Boy Scouts of America and the Mountaineer Area Council, and I am honored and humbled to receive the Distinguished Citizen Award.

Thank you.