Chamber presents awards, Price speaks
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DALLAS—University of North Texas at Dallas President John Ellis Price spoke to more than 60 business and community leaders who attended the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce’s 58th Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon Thursday, Feb. 10.
Referring to Pope John Paul II and an answer he once gave on how to improve the squalid conditions he often witnessed in his travels, Price quoted him as saying, "A community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings.
"I think John Paul II’s point was that we have to care for one another," said Price. "We have to develop our society around the notion that we all have the same opportunities and same access to success. That is why UNT Dallas exists. We are here to help create a better, stronger city and region and to help contribute to the soul of our community."
Too many Dallas citizens have forfeited their education because of poverty, lack of parental involvement and a lack of discipline," said Price. Economists conclude that the longer a student stays in school, the less likely he is to be poor, to drop out of school and live in poverty, and the more money he will earn over a lifetime.
"Sociologists tell us that those who are educated live at a higher standard, stay married longer, inspire unity and participate at a higher level in our system of democracy," said Price.
During the Chamber’s award ceremony, the highest honor—the Golden Gaither Award—which honors residents who have demonstrated a strong commitment to bettering Lancaster’s economic growth, has improved the city’s quality of life and has given of themselves unselfishly for 10 years or more, was presented to Jack Green.
In presenting the award, Dr. Charlie Waldrop described "two people who had a dream and they didn’t wait for someone else or the government to act on that dream." Jack Green and his brother Randall—who died three years ago—opened the first business in the city’s new industrial park in the 1960s. In the 1970s Green and Green paved and enlarged a short dirt runway and built taxi and tarmac areas and terminals and hanger, and in the 1980s they donated the airport to the city of Lancaster.
"The Lancaster Regional Airport, or what I like to call Lancaster international, would not be the vital cog in Lancaster’s future that it is today but for the Green brothers," Waldrop said. In accepting the honor, Jack Green shared the credit for building the airport with Paul and Claudia Camp.
Randy Rostad, retired from the AAFES and a member of the Lancaster Historical Society was given the Volunteer of the Year award. Sherry Kenney, an independent representative with AFLAC, was presented the Small Business of the Year award. ONCOR-SOSF received the Large Business of the Year award. Wal-Mart was given the Community Service Award.
The Rocky Strickland Community Enhancement Award was presented to Vivian Chastain, owner of Bienvenidos restaurant for her work on the "It’s About Our Business" campaign.
In his speech, Price offered four steps on how to remedy the situation of Dallas citizens forfeiting their education. First, UNT Dallas must be civically engaged. "We want to provide the best and brightest graduates for your businesses. If you will help us by providing internships and work study opportunities for our students, we assure you that we will provide the very best students who will help your businesses grow."
Second, the university will create linkages with local schools to create a college-going, career-readiness culture. "While we work to align the curriculum from elementary school through high school to better prepare for college, we will also focus on eliminating the obstacles that inhibit college attendance—poverty, poor health, poor test scores and so on," Price said.
Third, the university desires to help in building parental skills and promoting parental involvement in their child’s education. "We want to assist our citizens in creating an environment of learning in their homes. There is little doubt that having parental support is key to the development of educated minds."
Finally, a university of the 21st century will change the face of Dallas through service-learning, Price said. "Many times students attend college and they only attend college. They are not engaged with the community. They do not learn the value of helping their fellow man. We do not want this kind of graduate. We want to send out students as ambassadors for the school. As they work to improve the community around them, the presence of UNT Dallas in the community will increase."
"With the proper vision, we can help the young people in the city of Lancaster dream big dreams."