MSU Texas: Board of Regents honors three lives by renaming facilities

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Midwestern State Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve naming opportunities that recognize and celebrate the lives of three historic figures in the campus and the local community.

“These naming opportunities are particularly meaningful to our campus as we seek ways to connect and honor champions in our community,” said MSU Texas President Suzanne Shipley.

“Though their parts each varied greatly, the legacies of Charlye Farris, Robert Grays, and Noel Johnson exemplify the values of our university and stand as powerful testaments of how to best make a difference in our spheres of influence.”

Charlye O. Farris Social Justice Resources Center

By establishing the Charlye O. Farris Social Justice Resource Center, MSU Texas will create a hub of advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A native of Wichita Falls, Farris received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Prairie View A&M and later studied law at Howard University.

Farris was the first Black woman to be licensed to practice law in the State of Texas. She was also the first Black lawyer to actively practice in Wichita County.

She severed on the Board of Regents from 2006 to 2010.

Robert Tyree Grays Field

Robert Grays suffered a neck injury and passed away in 2017. Grays’s death left a lasting impact on campus, and the MSU Texas football team closes each practice with 24 pushups in honor of his memory.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Student Government (SGA) proposed to rename the football practice field, the Robert Tyre Grays Field, in remembrance of the beloved student-athlete.

The renaming makes the first campus facility to be named in memory of a student.

“Naming of the Robert Tyree Grays Field is important to the student body because Robert was someone cherished and a part of the student body community,” said Shelbi Stogdill, SGA President.

“Not only was he a talented student-athlete, but he was someone students knew outside of football, and his presence on campus was positively felt by every student he met. What I hope comes from this naming is that Robert Grays’ presence at MSU lives on and students are able to learn and recognize everything he was able to accomplish here in such a short amount of time and use that to inspire them to have as high of a positive impact and service that he did.”

Grays’s #24 jersey was retired in 2017.

Noel Johnson Locker Room

Noel Johnson was the women’s basketball for 11-years at MSU Texas. She was the winningest coach in the history of MSU Texas women’s basketball and earned numerous awards.

The SAAC and SGA members also brought to the Board of Regents in naming of the Noel Johnson Locker Room in memory of the former women’s basketball coach.

Johnson died on June 9, 2020 after a 14-month battle against ovarian cancer.

“There are no perfect words to describe who Coach J was to all of who knew her. Every player who passed through her program was taught the concept of family, loyalty, and tradition. She was a hero to several women, including myself,” said Hannah Reynolds, SAAC President and member of the MSU women’s basketball team.

“With the naming of the Noel Johnson Locker Room, her tradition of hard work on and off the court will forever be a staple of the Midwestern State Women’s Basketball program. I wholeheartedly believe the locker room will be a source of inspiration for players to come and carry her core values: kindness for others, love for all, dedication to the classroom, and relentless effort on the court.”

Johnson was inducted into the Texas High School Hall of Fame in 2017.

Each of these namings will be recognized and celebrated with ceremonies in Fall 2021.

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