For the past year-and-a-half Lubbock Christian University has been celebrating its 50th year of providing a Christian education to thousands of students from all parts of the world. The celebration began in the 2006-2007 school year with the 50th opening chapel and concluded November 6 with a benefit dinner featuring General Colin L. Powell.
Before the address by General Powell, more than 1000 people enjoyed lovely food and fellowship in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center banquet hall. LCU dining services provided the meal and the servers were LCU athletes.
While dinner was being served Dan Sanders, CEO of United Supermarkets and emcee for the evening, got up in front of the crowd and introduced General Powell and Dr. L. Ken Jones, President of LCU. A prayer of thanks was given, and Best Friends sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
After dinner, the crowd moved to the Civic Center theatre for the remainder of the program. A short video was played highlighting 50 years of tradition at LCU. Alumni spoke in the video about how truly life changing LCU is, and how they were proud to call it family.
After the video, Dr. Jones had the distinct honor to introduce General Powell. During the four-minute introduction, Dr. Jones said when the event planners were first thinking of whom they wanted to speak over a year ago, "we wanted someone who was like us…." Dr. Jones continued to say that when thinking of people to speak, "the only name considered and even mentioned was that of General Colin Powell."
Dr. Jones continued the introduction by listing the General's accomplishments and awards he has received.
General Powell was born and raised in New York City, the son of immigrant parents from Jamaica. He went to public school in New York City and then on to college at City College of New York (CCNY). While in college at CCNY, Powell participated in ROTC and earned a commission as an Army Second Lieutenant. General Powell has received numerous military and civilian awards and has served four United States presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Finally, the keynote speaker arrived on stage and was greeted by a standing ovation. Overcome with pride, he had to "shush" the audience so he could start his speech.
Powell began by saying he gets hundreds of requests to speak at various events, and when he saw LCU on the list, he did what any person would do: he investigated. Upon investigation of where LCU was and what it stood for, Powell realized that the same values LCU is known for, are also the values he lives by.
General Powell's first time in Lubbock was off to a great start. Powell spoke about his transition since leaving the public spotlight, saying humorously, "one minute you're the Secretary of State, and the next minute … you ain't."
Continuing on the subject of his transition to private life, Powell said, "I don't miss anything in life. I want to look through the front windshield not the rear-view mirror."
General Powell's main topic for the evening was leadership. "Leadership is leadership is leadership," he said. He also went on to say some of the most important aspects of leadership are putting one's followers in the best possible environment, taking care of one's followers, and to recognizing and rewarding one's followers. Powell continued, "Good leaders are those who know how to prune an organization. The essence of all leadership is trust."
As he continued to talk about leadership, he reinforced the idea of America's continuing leadership in the world, saying, "(People) still want to believe in America … we (Americans) don't need to sell ourselves short."
General Powell addressed the situation in Iraq by saying that they (the military) did the right thing at the right time, but once we got there we lost our heads. "We forgot that we weren't just the liberators. We were the occupiers, too."
Powell continued his speech by talking about America as a world power, and that this post-9/11 world has not made America weak.
After his speech came to a close General Powell was asked a few questions by Sanders as the two sat in an informal "set" with leather chairs on the stage.
Sanders asked what Powell considered to be the number one quality of leadership. Powell beautifully said that one must have, "a sense of empathy … leaders who can understand the people … to get the best out of your followers. Don't let an adversary become an enemy. Convert the enemy into an adversary and then into a friend."
Sanders then asked what kind of impact Powell thought a school like LCU could make on the U.S. Powell responded by stating that "we all have to be the sons and daughters of one God … schools such as LCU help to give young people and kids something to have faith in."
Next, General Powell was asked who he admired most, in addition to President Ronald Reagan, whom he had referred earlier in his speech. Powell immediately said his parents and family. His parents came from Jamaica to make a life for their children, not for themselves. He knew that whatever he did in life, he better not shame the family. He also added that he truly admired each President he had the honor of working for. He spoke highly of all four (Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43). Powell spoke of how each of these men were great men, and that they were "all different" when it came to leading the country. He had nothing but praise for each of them.
Sanders ended by asking the General what was next, to which he responded by saying that he was not anxious to go back into government, but that he is enjoying his life, and enjoying working with young people (which he has gotten to do a lot of lately) and that he will simply see what the future holds.
General Powell is currently spending his time raising money for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial that will be added to the Mall in Washington D.C. and also for an education center for the Vietnam Memorial, the most visited memorial in Washington.
After the fourth-or-so standing ovation, Mr. Randy Andrews (his company, Graco Real Estate, was sponsor of the event) and presented General Powell with a personalized pair of spurs. 50 years ago, Powell was just beginning his career, and LCU was just being formed out of a lifeless field of cotton. Andrews mentioned that in West Texas, giving one spurs is a sign of respect and admiration. The General was overwhelmed with gratitude when he was presented with the spurs, which bore the initials "CLP."
Another standing ovation from the crowd followed the presentation, which was highlighted by a light-hearted moment where the General did a little "shuffle" step on the stage in reference to his days as a drill team leader. As the crowd stood in respect, General Powell waved and left the stage.
The General spoke for almost an hour, and the crowd never grew tired of his speech. They hung on every word that was said, laughed in the appropriate places, and clapped in approval for one of the most respected world.