When the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended in 1991 that Fort Ord be closed as an Army installation, then-Congressman Leon Panetta was one of many local leaders opposed to the idea.

However, when it became clear that closure was inevitable, Leon went to work to build consensus around the best possible outcome for the region.

Politics has been defined as “the art the possible.” Through decades in public service, it has been Leon’s special gift not only to understand what is possible, but also to unite people behind the effort to make the possible happen.

White, Panetta, OchoaAt Cal State Monterey Bay, we are proud to work and learn at the university that grew from Leon’s efforts. We are proud to be home of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. And that is why we were particularly proud, in March, to host the Welcome Home event for Secretary Panetta at our University Center.

The event was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. In the days following, I received a steady stream of favorable comments about it. Well over 500 people attended the event. Many visited our campus for the first time and came away impressed.

Being the home of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy is an important building block of our campus’s reputation. The institute’s focus on the importance of public service and civic involvement is perfectly aligned with the goals of our university. And having Leon Panetta on campus -- as a friend, colleague and resource – can only benefit our university and our students.

The institute seeks to inspire “lives of public service for the health and service of our democracy.” We fully embrace that mission.

We could seek no higher accomplishment than helping the Institute develop the next generation of leaders who will follow in the distinguished tradition of Monterey’s favorite son -- Leon Panetta.

- Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, President