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Farewell to FCC Chairman William E. Kennard
As Delivered by Christopher Wright, General Counsel, FCC

Mr. Chairman, as you can see, even though today’s Commission Meeting agenda has one item, the Bureau and Office Chiefs and Deputies are all here. I’d like to ask them and your personal Staff to stand.

This is the last Commission meeting at which you will preside. We are the team you assembled to assist you and the other Commissioners while you served as Chairman. Each of us is very proud of the important work we have accomplished together over the last three years, and we all enjoyed working under your leadership. In fact, so many of us asked to speak on this occasion that we concluded that it would be too time-consuming to accommodate each request. Instead, I was asked to speak on behalf of all of the Bureaus and Offices and your personal Staff to express our gratitude for the opportunity you provided us, a task that I am pleased and honored to take on.

Professionally, we have participated in a rich intellectual feast since you became Chairman in November of 1997. The changes brought to every corner of the communications world by the 1996 Telecommunications Act have been profound, and we all are very fortunate to have been at the Commission during this period of transformation. I have constantly been struck by the professionalism, dedication, and creativity of the team you put together to assist the Commission during this exciting period. At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, I nevertheless must say that I believe that the high quality of the team you assembled is a reflection of your own high professional standards.

And I know that your leadership has made each of us keenly aware that a critical part of our jobs during this period has been to make sure that every American has the opportunity to share in the communications revolution. I speak for each of us in saying that your clear, heart-felt concern for everyone -- from students in the inner cities benefiting from the e-rate program, to persons on reservations lacking plain old telephone service, to persons with disabilities seeking to join the digital age more fully -- has inspired us to make sure that we ask ourselves how every Commission Order we review can be improved to help all Americans.

Indeed, your leadership has been felt world-wide. I have addressed the graduates of the U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute programs for the last three years. It is always both impressive and a test of my knowledge of geography to see the names of the places where the students live. Although they work for communications agencies around the world, they all know who Bill Kennard is and they all are keenly interested in the work we have been doing here under your leadership.

Personally, we have all enjoyed working with you and with each other. The veterans among us tell me that we have worked across Bureau and Office lines better than ever before. Again, I think your leadership is responsible for this high level of collegiality, along with your insistence that we hire and promote people who can debate vigorously, but respectfully. It may also have helped that we have had so much to do that the volume of work made it easy for us to view the involvement of other Bureaus and Offices as needed assistance! But it has been fun. I have looked forward to coming to the office each day to work with you and the other members of your team.

Thank you, Bill, for including us on your team. We are very proud to have served under your leadership.