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USW celebrates free enterprise and servant leadership at gala event

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For the News-Sun

The University of the Southwest hosted its 2023 Gala to “recognize and celebrate the unsung heroes of the community who have shown an unwavering commitment to free enterprise and servant leadership.”

The Gala, held on March 30 at the Hobbs Country Club, was an opportunity for the University leadership “to honor those who have worked tirelessly to make a positive impact on the lives of those around them,” according to a release from USW Interim President Ryan Tipton.

The event, which had been canceled in 2020, 2021, and 2022, due to the COVID pandemic and the university’s recovery from a tragic accident, marked a time for reconnection, re-establishing relationships, and celebrating shared values, purpose, and mission.
A highlight of the event was the recognition of two community members who “embody the principles of free enterprise and servant leadership,” the release stated. “These community leaders have helped make Lea County a great place to live and work,” and their contributions were celebrated at the event.

Honorees included Gary Fonay as the 2020 Trustee of Free Enterprise and Keith Pearson as the award recipient for 2022.

“We were delighted to once again host the event in person after a three-year hiatus and recognize the outstanding contributions of our honorees,” said Tipton. “Their steadfast commitment to free enterprise and servant leadership has made a lasting impact on our community, and we are honored to celebrate their achievements.”
Attendees also enjoyed entertainment by one of Hobbs’ Hillary Smith and the ChillHouse Band.

“The University of the Southwest is committed to fostering a culture of excellence, innovation, and service. The principles of free enterprise and servant leadership form the cornerstone of its mission, providing opportunities for innovation and progress while emphasizing the importance of putting others first and leading by example. As the community came together to celebrate, the University of the Southwest hopes that this event will inspire attendees to continue to strive for excellence and make a difference in the lives of those around them,” the release stated.

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