Inspired, humbled, moved—these are a few words that describe how I felt listening to the stories and words of the awardees at the 33rd Annual Barbara Jordan Media Awards event hosted at UTA on Saturday, April 24th. The event has special significance since it not only honors the legacy of a great Texan—Barbara Jordan—a true visionary and a trail blazer who not only dedicated herself to breaking barriers and building bridges but helped ensure focus on the dignity of the individual. The annual event assures that Barbara Jordan will continue to inspire us in the future reminding us that challenges and disabilities can be overcome and each one of us can have a profound positive impact and make a difference in the world. A description of the award winners and the tremendous individuals about whom they reported can be found HERE, and I’d recommend that you read these—you will be inspired.
The event gave me and many others a chance to reflect on the tremendous leadership being shown by our university and by each of you. Under the able leadership of Coach Garner, adaptive sports continue to thrive at UTA with our women’s basketball team, the Lady Movin’ Mavs, winning the National Championship this year and a number of our students being chosen to represent the national team at the Paralympics in Rio. Our Disability Studies minor led by Dr. Sarah Rose is the only one in the Southwest and continues to set standards for other institutions to follow. Student leaders like Michael Lumus and staff like Penny Acrey (both of whom were at the event) represent the very best both through their own achievements and through the quiet dignity shown as they overcome challenges and obstacles showing that disabilities do not define lives—actions and strength of character do.
While we, as a university, have shown leadership, there is still a lot to be done, and I ask each of you to join with me to not only help dispel misconceptions and reveal the dignity with which people with disabilities live their lives but to work together with compassion, and respectfulness, making our community much better for all.