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UTA Pow Wow

February 27, 2016

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of more than 50,000 degree-seeking students at one of the nation’s top Carnegie R-1 universities, that awards the third highest number of degrees in the state of Texas, welcome to the University of Texas at Arlington. Thank you for honoring me with the privilege to greet you this evening. I recognize the significance of the Grand Entry and that my words cannot compare with its majesty and beauty and hence I will keep my remarks brief. 

Let me at the outset commend all of you for the event that you have organized today – it not only brings the community together renewing old friendships and making new ones, but it also honors history and culture. The event ensures that customs and traditions are brought to life and passed on with pride and that there is greater understanding of the uniqueness and commonalities of all peoples. Today, more than ever before, the respect for our past, the celebration of traditions, the understanding of cultures, the honoring of contributions, and the recognition that our futures are intrinsically intertwined are critical to our moving forward as a just and peaceful society. Thank you for showing us a path by the way you celebrate history, culture, and inclusiveness. 

The University of Texas at Arlington recognizes the historical significance and importance of the Native American community to the region. From the times of the Caddo nation, whose word for friends or allies denotes the origin of the name of our state, to more recent times the Native American community continues to play an important role that is often overlooked. Today more than 120 tribes are represented in the DFW area and your representation helps make this a richer community in thought and action. 

I’m pleased that so many from UTA have been engaged with, and continue to provide continuity and leadership in the community.  We owe thanks to Dr. Joseph Bohannon who was the founding president of NASA, Stephanie Vielle, the current president who has worked tirelessly with Harold Rogers, NASA student vice president, to ensure that NASA and our student body continue to grow in strength; members of our faculty Dr. Kenneth Roemer and Les Riding-in, who serve as advisors; and so many others who have provided leadership in the past and continue to do so today. Dignity, thoughtful leadership, and quiet determined forward action characterize all of them and I’m proud to call them part of the UTA Maverick family.

I’d like to specially welcome, both as a fellow president and as the emcee of this pow wow, Mike Burgess, president of Pawnee College.  Thank you for what you do, not just for NASA but for all students, for in doing so you help build a better tomorrow for all.

I’m proud that the Native American Student Association is the longest continuously running Native American student group in Texas. Since 1994 they have hosted 21 pow wows and helped provide numerous scholarships for students to achieve their dreams through higher education. They have sponsored nationally recognized speakers, screened films, and held language competitions, seminars and workshops.  The association provides a home for our students, encouraging them to excel, and enables a support system that has tremendous value. Through their efforts UTA is now listed among the 200 universities recommended by the Winds of Change magazine. We need to now set our sights higher and I commit to working with you so that we not only continue to be listed in the future but that we are held as one of the most welcoming and among the very best. There is much that we can learn from your heritage and wisdom and I hope in the days ahead we will find more commonalities and forge stronger links with communities and feeder institutions including with Pawnee College. 

I’d like to end with a blessing that a colleague mentioned to me years ago when I was faced with a challenge and needed encouragement, and which I value for its meaning even today

“May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world
And know its beauty all the days of your life”

Thank you for having me here today, welcome again to UTA, and may your future always be bright.