David E. Goel ’89

Year of Graduation: 
Stacey and David Goel with PEA Principal Bill Rawson.

"There’s a dynamic of participation in the theater unlike any other place ... a dynamic of inclusion."

Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from remarks made by lead donor David E. Goel ’89 at the grand opening of the Goel Center.

“My own time as a student at Exeter was dependent upon, to borrow from a Tennessee Williams line, the kindness of strangers. Stacey and I share our very own strong sense of obligation towards this school, and I have long believed that my time at Exeter changed the course of my life. Appropriately enough, as I stand here near the steps of our new Center for Theater and Dance, there’s no better metaphor for transformative power than this facility and the ability of the arts to, quite literally, bring dreams and ideas to life. Stacey and I believe strongly in the value of the arts and the role they play in educating us, precisely because of this power: The ability to transform us as individuals and as entire communities because of this incredible power to give life to ideas — ideas that start conversations, create empathies, foster compassion and demonstrate possibility and drive real change.

“At its core, the Exeter education seeks to bring us closer to the universal truths that make humans humane. Ideas like justice, ethics and integrity, compassion, and sympathy. If we commit to them and demand their application, all have the potential to provoke extraordinary changes in the human condition.

“So, to offer our students a world-class space where they can quite literally try on another person’s shoes and access a universe of ideas seems not only important, but in this era, necessary. As Picasso observed, every child is an artist. If anything, a place like this, by its very design, permits children to do what they do best: doubt, ask, explore, learn and grow. And let me point out what makes the arts such a profound tool for cultivating and transmitting ideas is that in the Center for Theater and Dance, the act of creation itself is incomplete without an audience.

When it comes to the arts, the act of listening and bearing witness is as powerful and important as the act of speaking. Whether it is the call-and response of jazz, the emotional reaction to the language of movement and dance, or the words and actions on stage that inspire tears and maybe even a little laughter, there’s a dynamic of participation in the theater unlike any other place. It is a dynamic of inclusion. The arts foster not just ideas, but conversations about ideas. These conversations create empathies and form empathy, and from this, real communities emerge.

“The journeys created in this dynamic space between these exchanges of ideas and the act of witnessing them are the ones that have the power to change history itself. And our great hope is that this center will be the beginning of many such journeys for years to come.”

Watch the full remarks.