Ford Legacy: Paul O'Neill

January 29, 2014 0:03:54
Kaltura Video

The Honorable Paul O'Neill recalls his memories of Gerald Ford's presidency and talks of Ford's influence at the Ford School.


>> [Background music] Prior to serving as Treasury Secretary in the George W. Bush administration, Paul O'Neill was Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Ford administration where he saw President Gerald R. Ford make policy based on facts.

>> He was not a presider.  He was a fact-based action person.

>> President Ford's approach to fact-based policy making is reflected today in the mindset of the students who attend the school that bears his name.

>> I was wondering if you had any ideas or tips for us going out into the world in the next few months about, like, how to get people to focus on the stuff that the policy students coming out of a place like the Ford School are going to bring to the table and not get caught up in the politics.

>> There are still people out there who at least will entertain facts and analysis.  Maybe they won't act on in it in the way they wish they would, but I think it's really important not to get caught up in the ideological stuff and to be prepared when there's an opportunity to make a difference in an important public policy question.  One of the things that's happening here at the Gerald R. Ford School is getting students up to speed with the most modern ideas about what facts look like as, as differentiated from opinions and ideological warfare and all of that.  These students are being prepared to understand what it means to have control of the facts and how to assemble them in the way that a decision maker can make an informed decision, which is an absolutely essential thing for the good of our society going forward.

>> Can you talk to, kind of, your experience in leading in the public sector and then leading in the private sector, and kind of differences, similarities, kind of-

>> And I was fascinated by their wanting to know of my view of leadership differences between the public and the private sector.  My notions of what leadership is about are basically the same wherever you are, public, private, non-profits, all the same.  Leadership is about creating a cultural environment so that the people you're leading can realize their human potential.  It's useful for people to have to search deep down in themselves to decide what's the spinal column of your view about leadership and then how do you intend to give effect to it?

>> You mentioned that leadership in college as well earlier on, what are some pressing issues that you see in higher education today?

>> I tell you what I've spent more of my time working on these days because I think it's kind of the front gate.  30 percent of the 10 year olds in the United States can't read and write and compute at grade level, 30 percent.  If a system produces 30 percent, let me call it bad product, there's something wrong with the system.  I think the President would have been delighted to see the curiosity of the students that I came into contact with because he himself was a lifetime student.  You know, he never stopped asking questions.  If we actually practiced the ideas that are being taught to the students here on a regular basis at the national, state and local level in making political decisions, we'd make a lot more decisions that stand the test of time.  To properly carry forward the legacy of Gerald R. Ford in all you do in life, remember those 3 words - On my honor.  Thank you and God speed.

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