Special to The Dallas Examiner
Fisk University is a small private Historically Black University or College in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1866, the university’s first students were former slaves of various ages. In the past 57 years, it has continued to grow and evolve into a liberal arts university.
Due to its growing student population, the university added 100 micro apartments converted from shipping containers to meet its need for student housing.
As a strategic focus to deliver greater opportunities for students to achieve their future goals, a career and development center will be added to the campus. Named for one of its largest supporters – Roland G. Parrish, a local businessman and philanthropist – the Roland Parrish Career Planning and Development Center will provide customized career information, resources and practical professional development services. The two-story, 10,605-square-foot building will include classrooms, conference rooms, innovation spaces and a career services center.
The center is designed to prepare the next generation of business executives and community leaders. The service will train students to develop skills that will increase their marketability and competitiveness in the marketplace.
Funding for the $3 million construction project was provided by Parrish. The donation was one of the largest gifts in the university’s history.
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 historic groundbreaking for the center was held in 2018. It is the first new building built on campus since 1974. Catalyst Builders Inc. provided the civil engineering, landscape, architectural planning and design services.
The university will host a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening on campus April 22. Former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Drew Pearson, a former NFL Dallas Cowboys player, will be Parrish’s special guests at the ceremony. During the luncheon, the guests will engage in a conversation in front of a live audience. They will discuss some of her experiences and numerous contributions during her 40 years in public service.
Parrish is the CEO and owner of Parrish Restaurants Ltd., which owns and operates 25 McDonald’s restaurants in Dallas and surrounding cities. It was listed as the 2nd Largest Black Owned Firm in North Texas, in 2021 and 2022 by the Dallas Business Journal.
He is known for his commitment to giving back to the community, especially causes that support the education and welfare of youth and young adults. Parrish is the second largest investor for the restructuring of the Reimaging RedBird Project.
In 2012, his leadership gift of $2 million supported the renovation of the former Management School Library at Purdue University. It was opened and renamed the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics. It was the first facility at Purdue to be named after an African American.
He donated to building of the Rev. John and Marie Parrish Medical Clinic in Fort Portal, Uganda, which opened in May 2016. Named in memory of his parents, the clinic serves over 6,000 children each year.
Parrish has received many awards and acclamations for his philanthropy. He currently serves on the advisory boards for the Dallas Mavericks; the Fisk University Board of Trustees; and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Krannert Business School and the Department of the Libraries. He also collaborates with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.
Earnestine Cole/Parrish Restaurants Ltd contributed to this report.