An Evening with Condoleezza Rice (2011) began with a dinner served by Lubbock Christian University athletes in the banquet hall. Following dinner, the ticketed patrons were directed to the Civic Center Theatre where the evening featured a moving and enlightening keynote address from Dr. Rice, as well as a casual conversation and interview with LCU Chancellor, Dr. L. Ken Jones. The event drew a sold out crowd of about 1,200 people.
Dr. Rice's public career includes, of course, her role as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States from 2005-09. Through eight years with President George W. Bush, she was an integral part of his administration and it was largely in view of those experiences that she spoke to our guests that night.
While acknowledging and dramatically illustrating the difficult economic and political times our nation faces, she urged the audience to consider how we treat those in leadership who will have to take difficult and perhaps even drastic measures to secure our future. "We have leaders who will make hard choices, but they won't make hard choices if we punish them," Dr. Rice concluded.
Since her current role in public life involves her advocacy for improvements in education, she addressed the education crisis that we face in America today. Her sobering words regarding the challenging problems were tempered, however, by her call for a solution, one that we must realize in our very near future.
"We have a crisis in K-12 education," she said, noting, "if you can't read by the third grade, you won't read."
"That literacy issue has come home through military recruitment," she said, explaining that "only 30 percent of the people who take the basic skills test to get into the military can pass it."
She shared that this sad reality has to be faced and overcome, since we here in America still must continue to believe in the idea that has inspired so many to do so much to make our country great: we can go where we have not yet gone and become more than what we are. She said that she could name for us places in America where children do not have what they need to fulfill our nation's great hope.
Her reflection upon her family life and upon the power of education to change the lives of those who refuse to see themselves as victims certainly resonated with our students who were in the audience.
"I really enjoyed having the opportunity to listen to her speak," said LCU student Aaron Stephenson. "She is such a smart and influential woman, and her thoughts on education seem to be something that she is passionate about."
The evening was not without moments of levity, however. During the sit down interview with Dr. Jones, he asked Dr. Rice if she would ever consider a run for president. She laughed, paused for a moment, and then responded with a very succinct and firm, "NO!" That response elicited laughter throughout the Civic Center Theatre.
She did mention, though, that she has a specific criterion for any candidate whom she would endorse to become the next U.S. President. "The candidate I would support," she said thoughtfully, "is on who will stand up and say 'let me tell you what we've got to do,' one who is willing to be a one-term president."
The speech portion of the evening ended with her stating that she believes the best days for the United States are ahead of us.
"We were extremely pleased that Dr. Rice was part of this event to benefit Lubbock Christian University," said Dr. Ken Jones. "She was eloquent, classy, and engaging in her comments, and she most assuredly represents the character and core values of our students, faculty and staff. It was a tremendously successful evening and we are extremely grateful to those who supported the even."
"It's amazing to me that we continue to see Lubbock Christian University put together such a high class event each and every time they attempt to do so," said longtime LCU supporter and local businessman Brian Pitaniello ('89). "This was an outstanding evening from the moment you walked into the Civic Center until you left the building - first class, first rate...amazing."