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“You cannot just do it my way or the highway. I tried that and I failed,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said at one point, noting his lack of success when he tried early in his administration to bypass the state Legislature by bringing his agenda directly to the voters in a series of failed ballot initiatives.

Overall, however, he painted a bright picture of his time as governor. During his welcoming remarks, he said his administration took the lead in pushing to stem global warming, provide health care to its citizens and rebuild the state’s infrastructure while the federal government was gridlocked on those issues.

He also noted that California committed $3 billion to stem cell research when he was governor and created an independent, citizen-led commission to more fairly draw state legislative districts.

He said he wants the Schwarzenegger Institute to continue to take on those issues and others, collaborating with innovators of all political backgrounds to come up with solutions for the problems of the nation and the world.

“No ideology has a monopoly on solutions,” he said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger showed he could still charm a crowd with one-liners, even though he didn’t use his signature phrase, “I’ll be back,” or even the modified version, “I’m back,” from his latest action film, “The Expendables 2.”

Introduced by USC President C.L. Max Nikias, who called him a larger than life hero, Mr. Schwarzenegger said, “Thank you for that fantastic introduction, President Nikias, that’s exactly how I wrote it.”