Rolling Out

David A. Armstrong praises Denny’s for unifying diverse communities

The St. Thomas University president believes education is the true equalizer

On May 30, Denny’s announced a commitment to the community by allying with 14 civic and educational organizations that coincide with their Community initiative. The initiative includes over $2 billion in investments in diverse-owned businesses and donations exceeding $2.5 million in scholarships.

The launch of Denny’s Community Alliance took place at the St. Thomas University Benjamin L. Crump College of Law. Denny’s CEO and president Kelli Valade signed the Community Alliance agreement and presented a $500K scholarship gift from Denny’s to the College of Law in support of its commitment to social justice.

David A. Armstrong, the president of St. Thomas University, spoke with rolling out about the initiative and what it means for Denny’s and the university.

How does it feel to be a part of the initiative?

St. Thomas University is one of the most diverse Catholic universities in the country, and we mirror South Florida and Miami. Anytime that we have corporations that are supporting diverse peoples and diverse cultures, we’re all in. For [Denny’s] to step up and do this here at the Center for Social Justice, at the law school, and support the work of Benjamin L. Crump, our namesake at the law school — that’s pretty special. As I said in my comments, so many people talk the talk, and so few walk the walk. Denny’s is walking the walk and truly unifying communities. Mayor [Rodney] Harris and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson were here, all in support of the initiatives that are happening here. When you’re in a city like Miami Gardens that [is a] 70 percent African American majority city, you have to be a part of the fabric of what’s happening. When we build bridges and we work together, it makes for a better community, it makes for a better country — and it makes for a better world.

How do you take something like this into perspective as the president of the university?

I love what I do. I have dedicated my life to making sure that smaller faith-based liberal arts institutions not only survive but thrive. It is wonderful being here at St. Thomas University: working with our students every day, seeing the opportunities these students are getting and then seeing the success that they have when they graduate. It makes it all worthwhile and all the hard work because education is the true equalizer. It is the great equalizer, and to advance anyone in their life, they need to get an education and also to be an informed good citizen of their state, of the country, and in the world. Here at St. Thomas University, we have great diversity, diversity of thought, and diversity of people coming together. Having corporations that will support [us] — that is pretty special.

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