Gen. Colin L. Powell (Ret.) drew a standing-room-only crowd of 2,200 to Saint Xavier University’s Shannon Center Wednesday night for the second lecture in the SXU Voices and Visions Speaker Series.
In honor of his visit to Saint Xavier, the Chicago City Council recently approved a resolution presented by Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) declaring Sept. 19 “Colin L. Powell Day.” Prior to the lecture, Powell was presented with a Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa, in recognition of his long and distinguished career of public service.
“This event without a doubt solidifies the SXU Voices and Visions Speaker Series as one of the preeminent speaking engagements in the city of Chicago,” said Robert Tenczar, vice president for University Relations at Saint Xavier. “We are very grateful to Gen. Powell and the many people who worked so hard to make this a tremendous success.”
Gen. Powell regaled delighted audience members with stories from his long military career, leading up to serving as a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993 and later as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.
He noted that Saint Xavier University was formed in 1846, just a year earlier than his own alma mater, the City College of New York, and that they served similar purposes.
“The Sisters of Mercy came here, and shortly after they arrived, they set about creating an institution to educate young women at a time when it might not have been the most popular thing to do,” Powell said. “But they did it because they felt that in this great city of Chicago there was a need for a place like that, and 160 years later both of these wonderful institutions are doing what they were supposed to do from the beginning: serving the community, growing with the community, changing with the community, and making sure to always give back to the community.”
Earlier in the day, Gen. Powell led a classroom discussion with a select group of Saint Xavier University students, after which he sat down for a one-on-one interview with Nick Kerr, editor of Saint Xavier’s weekly student newspaper, The Xavierite.
The event was co-sponsored by the Office of University Relations and the Student Activities Board. A limited number of tickets were also available for priority seating and admission to an exclusive post-lecture wine and cheese reception with Powell.