Naming the Anita Thigpen Perry School of Nursing at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Thank you, Kent [Hance, Chancellor]. It seems like every time I come here to Lubbock, this school has grown a little bigger, won another award or started a new construction project. I admire a man of vision.
Having two men of vision, you and President Baldwin, leading the charge out here gives us all great hope for Texas Tech.
I want to thank all of you for being here today and investing in the future of healthcare in our state.
As I look back on the last half century of my life, there are certain moments that make me proud.
I certainly think of my commissioning in the Air Force, getting my Eagle Scout and graduating from Texas A&M.
But my absolute proudest moments all involve the love of my life, Anita Thigpen Perry.
There was no prouder man in West Texas than me on the day when she agreed to marry me, and the buttons nearly burst off my jacket with pride when she said “I do” at our wedding.
Watching that magical transformation when she went from loving wife to full-fledged mother with the birth of our children told me that God had blessed me far beyond anything I’d ever done.
Anita, you have made me proud of you in so many ways in the course of our relationship. And today only makes me prouder.
Watching you pursue your studies and practice the healing arts then raising two great children was an object lesson in perseverance, organization and integrity.
Doing all that while encouraging me to pursue my dreams made it all the more remarkable.
It has been an honor to serve the state we love so much together. Your steady presence has been an invaluable aid to me as we have worked to make a difference.
Watching you adapt so readily to the role of First Lady, seeing you use that position to press for better healthcare and protection for women, and observing you do it all with such grace and dignity, I started to realize that Texans weren’t just considering me when they cast their vote.
You are a wonderful First Lady for this state, the embodiment of grace, the epitome of strength and an enduring example of the finest our state has to offer.
To me, you are the ideal Texas woman and I am honored to be your husband.
I congratulate you on this honor and I commend the fine people of Texas Tech for their wisdom in selecting you as the namesake for this school.
As this school educates nurses who will fan out across our state and our nation, your legacy as a healer will endure in the lives of the sick and injured.
With the skills and the ethics taught in this place, lives will be changed, comfort will be conveyed and our state will be improved.
There is no question that Texas needs more nurses.
The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies estimates that Texas will have 27,000 fewer nurses than it needs in 2010.
That is why I asked the legislature to support additional funding for nursing this past session.
The current budget appropriates $14.7 million for the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program to recruit and retain nursing faculty, a $9 million increase over fiscal year 2006-07.
And I suspect we’ll have to take another long look at the nursing shortage as we head into the next session that begins in just five short months.
We have worked hard to make our state more doctor-friendly by pursuing tort reform, and the results are showing.
We only recently cleared the backlog of applications from physicians who wanted to practice in Texas.
The word is out that our sensible laws allow them to focus on healing instead of defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits.
Doctors know that our sensible laws will keep them in the examining room or operating suite instead of the courtroom.
As our complement of doctors grows, our overall population is growing at the same time. And the need for nurses will only increase.
Without them, the greatest doctors in the world would struggle, without them, patients would go wanting for that human touch and the careful attention that nurses provide, without them, the quality of life in our state would dwindle to nothing.
Training these healers is a noble task. Through it, you make Texas safer, and an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
As your governor, I thank you for your dedication.
As husband of the First Lady, I commend you on your wisdom.
As best friend to this school’s new namesake, I say “great choice.”
And, finally, to Anita, my bride and my inspiration: congratulations. This honor is well-deserved and a testament to your vision.
Thank you for all you do for our family and our state.
God bless you, may God bless you all and may God continue to bless the great state of Texas.
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