By Earnestine Cole
Special to I Messenger Media
Nashville, TN— When the doors open on the Roland Parrish Career Planning & Development Center Saturday, April 22, 2023, it will be a historic moment on the Fisk University campus.
The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening of the first new building built on the University’s campus since 1974 is due to the philanthropy of the building’s namesake, Roland G. Parrish, a Dallas businessman who donated a historic $3 million gift to fund the construction; making it one of the largest gifts in the university’s history.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Center was in 2018. Catalyst Builders Inc. in Nashville, provided the civil engineering, landscape, architectural planning and design services.
Located on the historic HBCU campus, which was recently visited this month by Vice President Kamala Harris, the two-story, 10,605-square-foot building is designed to prepare the next generation of business executives and community leaders.
Features of the Center include classrooms, conference rooms, innovation spaces and a career services center.
At Fisk, Parrish worked closely with Frank Sims, Interim President and longtime Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Jens Frederiksen, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Development.
The new Center is part of Mr. Sims’ strategic initiative to prepare the next generation of business executives and community leaders. Parrish is highly committed to giving back to the community, especially causes that support the education and welfare of youth and young adults.
The strategic focus of the Center is to deliver greater opportunities for students to achieve their future goals. The Center provides customized career information, resources and practical professional development services. The overall result is training students to possess skills that will increase their marketability and competitiveness in the marketplace.
Former U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will be Parrish’s special guest at the festivities.
“She has lived an extraordinary life and has an incredible story to tell,” said Parrish. “I want to show appreciation to this great lady and celebrate her 45 years of dedicated public service to help make our lives better.”
Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Johnson’s political career spans 45 years. She served as a Member of the Texas State House of Representative from 1972-1977; Administrator, United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1977-1981; Member of the Texas State Senate from 1986-1992; and then elected to represent Texas’ 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2023.
Congresswoman Johnson was the first Black woman to serve the city of Dallas in the Texas State Senate since Reconstruction. She was also the first Black woman to chair the Congressional House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
During the luncheon for the grand opening Johnson and another special guest, former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson, will engage in a friendly conversation before the audience, discussing some of her experiences and numerous contributions during her 40+ years in public service.
Parrish received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management (BSIM) and MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Business, in West Lafayette, IN.
At his alma mater, Parrish’s $2 million Leadership Gift supported the renovation of the former Management School Library, which was opened and renamed the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics in 2012; making it the first facility at Purdue to be named after an African American.
Parrish’s spirit of philanthropy led to the building of the Rev. John and Marie Parrish Medical Clinic in Fort Portal, Uganda. Opened in May 2016, the clinic, named in memory of his parents, annually services over 6,000 children.
Parrish currently serves on the Advisory Board for the NBA Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, TX; Board of Trustees of Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee; and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Krannert Business School and the Department of the Libraries. He also collaborates with the MLB Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.
A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Parrish is the CEO and Owner of Parrish Restaurants Ltd., which owns and operates 25 McDonald’s restaurants in Dallas and surrounding cities. The Dallas Business Journal ranked Parrish Restaurants, Ltd, the second Largest Black Owned Firm in North Texas, in 2021 and 2022.
In 2017, Parrish received the Dallas Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Parrish Restaurants, Ltd consistently makes the Black Enterprise BE 100 as one of the Top 100 Black Owned Businesses in the United States.
Parrish is the second largest investor for the restructuring of the Re-Imagining Red Bird Project which will bring a Marriott Hotel and hundreds of jobs to the Red Bird community. The Project, dubbed Dallas Business Journal’s 2020 Best Real Estate Deal of the Year, includes 200,000 square feet of medical/clinical services to the southern sector, through Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center.