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Medal of Valor Award Presentation to Officer Jeff George

July 22, 2016

Courage, valor, lionheartedness – these are words that are not used lightly.  They represent the characteristics of the very bravest and those who put the well-being of others above that of themselves. 

The members of our police force do this every day – in ways that are often not seen by most of us.  They patrol our campus, answering calls without hesitation, putting themselves in harm’s way to keep our campus safe.  They enable us to enjoy the freedoms we so cherish as a university without walls, one that is part of the community and increasingly integrated with it without worrying about crime and constantly looking over our shoulders.  They make it possible for buildings to be open at all times of the night, for students to jog across campus at hours when the world outside is asleep, and they allow us to hold huge events without worrying about attacks.  Day after day, month after month, through the years, we place our faith in the men and women in blue to do that very difficult task of identifying friend from threat without appearing menacing and while being friendly to our campus community, to do the very difficult and dangerous work of protecting our campus and all on it, enabling conflict to be considered learning events in a true academic context, and they do this often without receiving the gratitude, and the respect, they so richly deserve. 

So before I say anything more – to all those here from police forces whether at UTA, the City of Arlington, or anywhere else – from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all at the University – thank you.  Thank you for enabling us to be a University – open to thought, expression and action.  You serve us, and the community with dignity and selflessness and for that you have our trust, faith and respect.  Thank you for all you do. 

And to the families of these officers – we owe a deep debt of gratitude.  You share what you hold most dear with us and you support them as they support and enable us.  Thank you for your sacrifices and thank you for making it possible for these wonderful men and women to serve as they do every day.

Officer Jeff George - what does one say to a person who puts his life on the line serving our country with distinction in Iraq and the Middle East, putting himself in harm’s way so that our homes and our way of life remain safe and secure?  The words “thank you” seem hollow in these cases because we cannot even begin to understand the sacrifices that were made and the courage shown in the face of significant danger.  Most of us do not completely grasp the level of sacrifice made, the dedication and valor shown so that all of us might enjoy the freedoms we so cherish.  You not only served our nation with distinction but you returned after five tours of duty and continued a life of selflessness and duty.  We honor you today because of your actions during events in which you placed your life at risk for the benefit of our campus and the surrounding community, and despite repeated danger, you ensured the well-being of your fellow officers while focusing on the overall safety of our students and the community.  Bravery in these circumstances goes beyond the call of duty and for that I’m deeply grateful. 

But I’m also grateful for what you do every single day when you respond to emergencies big and small, to protect the campus and its community whether within our borders or adjacent to them, safeguarding us from unrelenting challenges and threats that constantly evolve – all the while focusing on the objective of being a friend to our community and a person who is approachable by all.  I know that takes significant courage – it also takes selflessness – you do not know whether the person walking past is a well-intentioned faculty member, staff member, or student, or someone with the intent to do harm.  So while we honor you for your bravery, I would be remiss if I did not also honor and thank you for what you do every single day – quietly, often unseen, mostly unheralded, and because you are so successful without the general campus community even knowing of what you’ve done and the risks you’ve taken.

I’m deeply grateful to your family as well.  Thank you for sharing Jeff with us and thank you for enabling him to serve the University.  Please know how proud we are to have him on our police force and how much he means to each of us.

It’s a tremendous honor for all of us to have you, Officer George, and your colleagues in blue as part of the UTA community.  You epitomize the Maverick family, you exemplify our Principles of Community, you make UTA possible – and for that I thank you.