Billy Hamilton encouraged University of North Texas Master of Public Administration students and alumni, as they embark on their careers, to bring a sense of innovation to their jobs and not accept the status quo.
“I honestly believe the issues [in Texas] are piling up and need to be addressed, and that’s where you guys are coming in,” said Hamilton, senior adviser to the executive director of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Hamilton gave the Chester A. Newland Colloquium address during the Master of Public Administration Alumni-Student Conference at Apogee Stadium on Friday. The conference focused on the future of Texas related to such key issues as water, health care, education and transportation.
Former Texas Sen. Florence Shapiro talked about the future of education, and Gary Thomas, president/executive director of DART, spoke on the future of transportation. Jody Puckett, director of water utilities for Dallas, discussed the future of water, and Hamilton spoke on the future of health care and gave the main address.
Hamilton shared about his work on special assignment as co-executive director of the California Performance Review for then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It was during that time he met Chester A. Newland, the namesake of the address he was giving Friday. Newland earned his undergraduate degree at UNT and served on the faculty in the 1960s, when he was also on the Denton City Council.
He joked that he learned about innovation in health care when he visited his daughter in Venice Beach, Calif., and found a store that sold medical marijuana.
“You could get botox there at the same time,” he said.
After starting out on the lighthearted note, he talked about the issues affecting the future of Texas, including the need for a long-term financial plan and the need for a better working relationship between state and local governments.
There is not comprehensive thinking of the state impact on the local level, he said.
He talked about being in public service after the collapse of the oil and gas industry.
“I learned from that experience how to be a better state employee,” Hamilton said.
“It forced us to think about the future,” he said. “It forced us to dig down and do something more with our careers than push paper.”
Hamilton said his generation has done what it can.
“This state, in a lot of ways, is a beacon for a lot of people,” Hamilton said. “It’s also a state that needs a lot of work from people like you if it’s going to function.”
He encouraged students to do their homework on issues, be prepared and take notes.
“But, most important, care about your job,” Hamilton said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .