"This is priceless. I've been very fortunate to be born and raised in this community," said Dr. Johnny Moore, accomplished graduate of Washington Lincoln High School who went on with a continuing success in athletics and later chose a full time career revolving around academics.
Dr. Moore, the 13th president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, visited with a group of supporters, alumni of Philander Smith College and several family members as part of a "Meet the Presidents Tour," Tuesday at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope.
Vice President for Advancement at Philander Smith Dr. Shannon Fleming visited with Moore and explained a bit about the tours.
"He is the only president and alum that is an Arkansas Native. We have had an alum president, that was from Arkansas, but not a native of Arkansas," Fleming said.
Fleming felt that was a very unique thing for Philander Smith.
Dr. Moore started July 1, as the 13th president of PSC. He was a 1989 graduate of PSC with a long, impressive history teaching at East Arkansas University. He later accepted a full time teaching position at Indian River State College and coached women's basketball. After two years, he stepped down from his coaching and after already achieving his masters went on to pursue his doctorate from the Florida Institute of Technology, while still teaching full time at Indian River State College.
After spending 16 successful years in Florida quickly rising from master instructor to assistant professor, associate professor, full (tenured) professor, mathematics department chairman, to the position of vice-president of student affairs within a nine year period, according to Moore's biographical information.
He later accepted executive vice president at Tyler Junior College in Texas, after two years in Tyler he was chosen as the 13th president of PSC.
Moore said after leaving Historic Washington and receiving numerous athletic and academic scholarships, he felt like he was pursuing a dream to become an NBA basketball professional.
He excelled in basketball to the point he was recruited for try outs that did not, he says, "unfortunately or fortunately" did not turn into a career for him.
He played on the word "fortunate" because he said his life has changed. "It is not about me. At one time it was about me and where and what I was doing to be a pro basketball player; now it about others," Moore said.
Moore seemed without a doubt in a room of close to 50 supporters to be extremely happy in where he had come in his life and career.
Former superintendent of Washington-Lincoln High School and Hope schools, Kenneth Muldrew was principal of Moore for seven years was in attendance.
"You epitomize what all the people in this room stand for. I want to say, you make us proud," Muldrew said.
Moore seemed more than anything to get across a message to a room full of people meant to be mostly alumni of Philander Smith, but "turned reunion," that he stood for changing lives and helping youth. Near 10 alumni did come as well as family and friends of Moore, and school friends as well.
"Arkansas has made great strides," Moore said relating to education.
He is in support of seeing more college graduates from Arkansas. He brought to the attention of the group that Arkansas has remained economically advantaged over other states throughout tough times.
Moore said when he was faced with the reality that he would not be playing NBA, he was very encouraged by professors and mentors at PSC. They showed him he could be just as successful with a mathematics degree and Moore gives the impression that he is "more successful." "I would like to say that in my career at one time it was all about me, a lot of you know that," he laughed.
"I am at a point in my life. It has come to a place in all our lives where we have to make a difference in the lives of our kids," he said referring to youth in general. "It is not all about me, bu how others younger accomplish things. I am a firm believer the Man above will direct your path."
He said it has been discussed as well that UACCH will also form an articulation agreement with Philander Smith as well, was mentioned at the tour meeting.
Moore thanked his mentors and looked out at those who had helped guide him sitting before him years later. He again kept returning to his "new passion."
"You help me help our kids. If you are not helping impact kids lives then you are not doing anything. Make a commitment to reach out to this area and change lives," he said.
He emphasized the fact that it is noticeable that kids today want to do great things but do not have or have not learned the work ethic to take them where their dreams lead them.
He is as he wants others to be as well committed to guiding these kids and mentoring, tutoring, whatever it takes to keep or get them going in the right path, with education being at the top.
He did not stop without expressing an humble thank you to those who came in his support and he thanked his father and mother (who is now passed) for instilling the importance of going to school to him.