SHSU Cements Parker’s Lasting Legacy
April 7, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins
Sam Houston State University held a ceremonial ribbon cutting Thursday dedicating the newly-named Frank Parker Plaza in honor of the former vice president for student affairs who provided the university leadership and growth for over four decades. While the plaza is located at the heart of campus, the event was moved inside historic Peabody Memorial Library due to inclement weather.
“I am overwhelmed by all of this and overwhelmed that all of you showed up,” Parker said to his friends and family in the crowd. “I’d like to thank the Sam Houston community, which is part of my family. The people I have met, the people I’ve helped, have had as much influence on me as I had on them, and that’s what life is all about: the connections you make and whose lives you try to make better. I thank this community because you certainly have made my life better.”
Parker began his career at SHSU as the director of the student activities program and assistant director of the Lowman Student Center before becoming assistant dean of student life and serving as interim director of the university health center and recreational sports and activities. He then spent time as associate dean of student life before he was named associate vice president for student services in 2005. He held this position until his 2022 retirement when he was named vice president emeritus.
“The Plaza is the most visible and prominent outdoor space for students to gather,” said SHSU President Alisa White. “It provides a place for conversation for students, faculty, staff and visitors of the university. Frank Parker’s efforts to create a more inclusive, student-engaged university makes the plaza a fitting place to be named after him.”
White spoke in depth on Parker’s legacy and the impact he had on SHSU over his 42 years of service, highlighting the programs he championed as well as his vast contributions to the campus layout. Parker oversaw the construction of the SHSU Counseling Center, made major renovations to the LSC and helped recreate and install the historic Old Main glass featuring the university motto.
“As significant as those spaces are, they are really just symbols of something that is much more important, because you built people here,” White said to Parker. “You didn’t just take care of buildings, you took care of people. You invested in the lives of students, who are creating their own legacies in their own communities.”
Distinguished guests in attendance included President Emeriti Dana Hoyt and Jim Gaertner, former Texas State University Board of Regents member Trisha Pollard, TSUS director of public art Marjorie Flanagan, former provost and vice president for academic affairs Richard Eglsaer and Dawn Mathis, a friend of Parker’s who attended and spoke on behalf of Texas State Senator Borris Miles. Miles planned to attend the event in person but was called to the Senate floor. Mathis also read a resolution from the State of Texas honoring Parker on behalf of Miles.
Joseph Chavez, president of SHSU’s Student Government Association, also spoke on behalf of the students along with Drew Miller, interim vice president for student affairs.
The recurring theme throughout each speech was Parker’s dedication to the students of SHSU during his tenure. He helped create the Department of Student Activities and established the school’s first multicultural students services director position.
Parker shared that there was once a time he was offered an opportunity to take another job away from SHSU, but then spoke to the late William Powell, former associate dean of student life.
“He said that if you ever feel like quitting, just talk to a couple of the students. That will convince you to stay,” Parker said. “That is what this university is all about: our students. I am glad to have played a part in that.”
- END -
This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office:
Director of Content Communications: Emily Binetti
Communications Manager: Mikah Boyd
Communications Specialist: Campbell Atkins
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu