Last week, the Stark Center was involved in two functions involving the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System. Those functions may prove to be very important to the future growth of the Center. This is so because the Board of Regents (BOR) governs more than 200,000 students and 84,000 employees spread across the sixteen campuses in the University of Texas System, including U. T.-Austin, the system’s flagship institution.
How these functions came about is that someone on the BOR apparently heard about the Stark Center and asked us to make a formal presentation to the BOR about Lutcher Stark, who served on the Board of Regents for 24 years, and was Chairman of the Board for 12 years. We agreed, of course, and so a member of the BOR’s staff came to the Stark Center to talk about the presentation. During that visit Jan gave the staff member a tour of the finished as well as the unfinished parts of the Center and the staff member liked what she saw. Several weeks later she brought another staff member for another look, and these two visits led the two staffers to propose to the Chairman of the BOR, James Huffines, that the Board have a reception and tour at the Stark Center the evening before our formal presentation. We were told that after looking at photos and learning more about the Center, Chairman Huffines decided that the Center would probably be of interest to the BOR and that such a tour and reception should be scheduled. Accordingly, we stepped up the pace of our preparations and tried to make the Center look as good as we could in the time we had. As last Wednesday night approached, the BOR sent teams of party planners, caterers, and florists to decide how best to accommodate the approximately 150 guests we expected to have. Finally, the night arrived, and we’ve chosen a few photos to illustrate how things looked.
The following morning, Jan led off our formal remarks with a power-point presentation about the broad legacy Lutcher Stark left here at UT during the first half of the 20th century, and I followed by telling the BOR of a Stark legacy at the University of Texas that’s much less well known and how that legacy led, over a period of almost a hundred years, to the Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports. I explained that two men began the circle in 1913 and that another man carried up through the middle 1960s the torch those men lit and, in turn, passed the torch to me—a torch which since 1973 Jan and I have carried together. I prepared a video about this for the BOR, in which I told how this circle was closed in 2007 when the Stark Foundation, established by Lutcher Stark, provided the funding which allowed us to design and build the Stark Center. I introduced the text of the video, in person, to the Board as follows:
“Now that Jan’s given you an overview of Lutcher Stark’s remarkable contributions to the university, I want to share a more personal story about how his early life at UT led us to be here today speaking to you about the center which bears his name. This is a story about the closing of a circle.
When I enrolled at The University of Texas 53 years ago I learned a secret that would change my life. The secret was simple as well as profound–training with weights would not make me musclebound. In other words, lifting weights wouldn’t make me slow, or stiff, or clumsy. Back in those days almost everybody—coaches and doctors and sports scientists…everybody… believed that training with heavy weights would make a person musclebound. Back in those days athletes were forbidden to lift weights. Now they’re required to lift weights. No change could be greater, and the change represents a complete paradigm shift. I don’t have time today to explain why everybody believed this nonsense during most of the 20th century, but in my own case I began to understand the secret when I spent the summer after I graduated from high school lifting weights.