The Belo Mansion staff had hardly gotten finished with the Elisa Project’s “Life Lessons” breakfast with Catherine and Sean Lowe and Brian Cuban on Wednesday, February 10, than they were setting up for the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon honoring Francie Moody-Dahlberg.
Outside the sun was shining, the sky was clear and the temperatures were just chilly enough to warrant a pashmina or sweater.
As guests arrived to check in, someone asked if there had been a nearby fire because there seemed to be guests with smudged brows. A friend nudged the person and reminded them it was Ash Wednesday.
When honoree Francie arrived with husband Kevin Dahlberg, it was the perfect time for a photo opp with Texas Woman’s University President Carine Feyton, her husband Chad Wick and Patricia Crocker. After the official photos were taken, Kevin whipped out his trusty Canon and shot his own photos of the group.
At 11:15 Virginia Chandler Dykes had arrived and was escorted to the grand ballroom to review the day’s arrangements. She then headed out the door only to be greeted like a rock star by the crowd. And Virginia was the poster child of graciousness as she welcomed each.
Just 15 minutes later the doors were on the verge of being opened when a question was raised on whether to use a hand mic or lavaliere. As the search commenced for the lavaliere, the doors opened and seven guests managed to slip in and get to their assigned table. The lavaliere was found and was tested and tested and tested against the handheld.
While the crowd tried nudging and opening the ballroom’s front doors, Belo vets and past Virginia Chandler Sykes Leadership Awardees Tincy Miller and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal took the side door and headed to their tables.
At 11:40 the front doors opened to let Virginia in. Finally five minutes later the doors were officially opened. First in was Francie, followed by nearly 400 people including Bobby Lyle, Brent Christopher, past Dykes awardees Mary Brinegar and Lindalyn Adams, Ben Casey, Michael Meadows, Greg Hext, Mike Gruber, Bob White, Ruben Esquivel, Brian Dyers, Kathleen Gibson, Jacque Wynne, Chris Durovich, Bill Braem and a late-arriving Amy Green. A slight stall occurred when Francie was stopped in the doorway by a friend and another friend and another friend.
By the time the seats were all taken at 12:10, the doors closed and a female voice was heard over the PA welcoming the group and introducing Virginia to the podium. Her words were brief but she proudly told how $½M had been raised over the years for the scholarship funds “to attract the best and brightest graduate students to TWU.” Virginia then introduced Bank of Texas’s Executive VP Bob White and thanked him for Bank of Texas’ presenting the luncheon for 10 years.
In typical Bob White style, he described Virginia as “style and grace” and used the word “excellence” for TWU.
After lunch (spinach and butter lettuce with brie and julienne of apple and sweet sherry vinaigrette, herb-dusted filet beef with maître d’butter accompanied by Boursin cheese mashed potatoes, asparagus and a roasted tomato and bread with butter and milk chocolate mousse), Virginia took a seat in a chair on stage and Carine thanked Bank of Texas CEO Norm Bagwell and all those who had made the luncheon possible and recognized past recipients.
A video was showing including Regina Campbell, Virginia and Carine with the message that Virginia’s grandmother had instilled in her: “Get a good education and no one can take it away from you.”
With that Carine invited all to show their appreciation for Virginia resulting in a standing ovation. In turn, Virginia rose from her chair and applauded the hundreds in the room.
Carine then provided a state-of-the-union on TWU including such facts as that it
- Will provide the state’s first university center for women entrepreneurs.
- Will be the new home of the Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice.
- Graduates about 80 veterans annually.
- Is the country’s largest public university primarily for women.
Just before 1 p.m. 2015 Dykes Awardee Ralph Hawkins introduced Francie, who was given a standing ovation. In accepting her award, she kept her remarks brief and gracious.
Carine then told the audience that the Moody Foundation had presented a $200K grant to TWU.
TWU Provost /VP of Academic Affairs Robert Neely then presented the 2016 scholarship awards to Veronica Rowe from the College of Health Sciences, Erin Ellis-Guffey of the College of Arts and Sciences, Tara Signs of the College of Professional Education and Mary Roberts of the College of Nursing.