Multicultural week brings Major General Bailey to DelVal

Oct 12, 2010

By Annmarie Ely

Major General Ronald L. Bailey of the United States Marine Corps, speaking as part of Delaware Valley College’s first Multicultural Week, said diversity strengthens a nation and success comes from a positive attitude coupled with action and confidence.


Bailey, in charge of Marine recruiting for the western U.S., is one of the highest-ranking African American officers in the armed forces. He spoke about diversity and leadership on Oct. 11 at Moumgis Auditorium, addressing an audience of staff, faculty, students and members of the public.

He frequently mentioned the importance of “honor, courage and commitment,” the hallmarks of the Marine Corps, and said leaders must use action and attitude, not words. Leaders should have a plan, he said, be accountable and organize and execute priorities effectively.

Most important, leaders should stay positive because “optimism is a force multiplier,” he said.

Bailey said leaders should think “it can be done” and look at how actions are not about them, but about the greater institution or group. He said sharing credit “makes the team stronger.”

He stressed the importance of holding on to integrity. “You have to give it away, no one can take it,” said Bailey.

With respect to diversity, Bailey called it a “strength” and the basis for the “greatness and uniqueness of our country.”

As an example, he mentioned the Navajo Code Talkers who used their native language to transmit military communications during World War II.

“It takes courage to see someone that is different,” said Bailey. “And see the strength that they bring.”

Bailey said Americans are joined together by a common heritage of fighting to be free.

Among the themes of his speech were self-confidence, determination and an unwillingness to quit. The major general spoke of actor Sylvester Stallone, who was told he had the aptitude of an elevator repair man and was not cut out to be an actor. Stallone refused to listen and after watching a fight where an unknown named Chuck Wepner knocked down Muhammad Ali, he went home and in three days wrote the script for the Academy Award-winning movie “Rocky.” “The rest is history,” said Bailey. “Just think if he’d accepted the fate that he was going to be an elevator repairman.”

He urged the audience to matter. “Living a life that matters does not just happen,” said Bailey. “It takes courage and commitment.”

During a question and answer session, Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan, president of DelVal, asked Bailey how he dealt with discrimination in his own life.

Bailey said he deals with it as soon as he sees it. “If I see discrimination, I’m going to let you know about it,” Bailey said. “ I fight it like an enemy and you don’t want to be my enemy.”

Bailey said that as he looked at each one of the audience members, he knew they would do the same.

At the end of the talk, the audience stood and applauded.

“I thought his speech was very motivating,” said Melissa Bond, a Doylestown attorney who serves on Dr. Brosnan’s President’s Advisory Council.

Meredith Buck, of the Bucks County Bar Association’s committee on diversity, said she enjoyed the way Bailey tied together elements of military leadership and civilian leadership.

Bailey’s awards include Defense Superior Service Medal with bronze oak leaf, Legion of Merit w/combat V, Meritorious Service with 2 gold stars, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation and the Combat Action Ribbon.

He was brought to campus for Multicultural Week with the help of college trustee Michael Moss and the Students for Diversity. Multicultural Week events continue through Oct. 15. The events are meant to foster awareness of our diverse world.

“Multicultural week offers the college community the chance to learn about the many different students, faculty and staff that are part of our institution,” said John Brown, vice president of Student Affairs. “It also will certainly enlighten us all about the importance of inclusion and diversity to a strong community. I encourage all of our community to find an event that they may be interested in.”