Lamar University honors Carl Parker with SETX legends scholarship
Lamar University and the Beaumont Foundation of America have announced the latest Southeast Texas Legends Scholarship recipient – this one honoring Senator Carl A. Parker. The $100,000 endowed scholarship will assist underserved students who attend Lamar University , President Simmons said at a ceremony and news conference Wednesday, March 26, in the University Reception Center of the Mary and John Gray Library.
Parker served for more than 32 years in the Texas Legislature as a state representative from Jefferson County from 1962-1976. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1977 and served until 1995. He is the only legislator to have served as speaker pro tempore in the Texas House of Representatives and president pro tempore of the Texas Senate. He authored or co-sponsored more than 400 measures that have been enacted into state law.
A native of Port Arthur , he earned his baccalaureate degree in government and economics from the University of Texas and completed his law degree at the UT School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1958 and is licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit and the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas. He served for nearly four years as a lawyer in the Naval Reserve, handling more than 500 claims for and against the government, and contested court martials.
Public safety, economic development and education were top priorities during his legislative career. Parker served on several committees in the House and Senate including the powerful Appropriations Committee in both chambers. He was instrumental in merging all environmental agencies under one authority to establish the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Committee and introduced legislation to create the Consumer Protection Act, and Texas ’ first industrial safety bill. He served as chairman of the Education Committee for a decade in the Senate championing the cause of education by sponsoring the School Finance Reform Bill and the Educational Opportunity Act, a landmark piece of legislation signed by Governor Mark White in 1984.
A staunch supporter and advocate of Southeast Texas educational institutions, Parker sponsored legislation in 1969 to change the name of Lamar State College of Technology to Lamar University. In 1983, he introduced legislation to create the Lamar University System consisting of then Lamar University-Orange and Lamar University-Port Arthur. The long-time senator was able to enact legislation in 1989 allowing the Orange and Port Arthur campuses access to Higher Education Assistance Funds and in 1991 affected legislation granting the two branch campuses degree-granting status while also establishing the Lamar Institute of Technology. The Lamar University System was incorporated into the Texas State University System in 1995 when Lamar University , Lamar State College-Orange, Lamar State College-Port Arthur and Lamar Institute of Technology became separate entities within the system.
“I believe Lamar University is the greatest asset in Southeast Texas, along with Lamar State College in Port Arthur and Orange ,” Parker said from his Port Arthur office. “When you consider the students who would not have been able to go to school if it weren’t for the two-year schools, they all fit together to bring us culture and scholarship and enhance our quality of life in general.”
Parker continues to stay active in the legislative process by lobbying for clients such as Southwestern Bell, the cities of Austin and Port Arthur, and the Texas State Troopers Association, to name a few. He actively litigates personal injury, business litigation, administrative law and civil rights cases from offices in Port Arthur and Austin .
In recognition of his contributions to higher education in Southeast Texas, Lamar University honored him by dedicating the Carl Parker Building . The Texas State University System regents approved the naming of the $5 million Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College-Port Arthur in 1992, to honor the Port Arthur native. Other honors include being named Outstanding Senator by Lawmen’s Magazine, Ten Best Legislators by Texas Monthly in 1991 and one of the seven best legislators by the Dallas Morning News in 1994. He was selected as one of two representatives from the United States to participate in the international Oxford Educational Roundtable at England ’s historic Oxford University and the Carl Parker Endowed Scholarship has been established at the University of Texas School of Law. He was also the recipient of the Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal for Outstanding Service to Higher Education.
Carl Parker has left his mark on the Golden Triangle by working to enact legislation designed to improve the lives of Southeast Texas residents through economic development, improving safety and by enhancing the educational opportunities for all Texans. Parker continues to be engaged in community activities by serving as chairman of the board of directors for Mid-County Bank and has assisted in the chartering of three other banks.
He is married to the former Beverly Stiegler, who recently retired as a professor of government and chair of the liberal arts department at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. They have three children, Valerie Parker Hintzen, Christian Ann Parker, and Carl Allen Parker, Jr.
“I’d like to thank the Beaumont Foundation of America for their commitment to Lamar University and the underserved individuals who will take advantage of this generous endowment for many years to come,” Simmons said during the ceremony. “We’re certain the students who attend Lamar via this scholarship opportunity will emulate the great example set by Senator Carl Parker.”
The Beaumont Foundation of America is a non-profit organization that grew out of the historic $2.1 billion settlement of a nationwide class action suit to obtain relief for those who bought defective computers.
“The foundation is still focused on the underserved, but the mission has broadened beyond technology, and that mission starts with a fundamental reality of our global economy, in which education is essential for a successful life,” said Frank Newton, president and CEO for the foundation.