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Pizza, Blue Tigers meet on the court

Pizza, Blue Tigers meet on the court

LU formally renames gym and athletics area at The Linc

September 23rd, 2017 by Bob Watson in Local News

Students from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, who were attending a Council for Drug Free Youth event at The Linc wellness center, cavort in front of the new logo on the gym wall, recognizing the gym's renaming in honor of Arris Pardolos.

Photo by Bob Watson /News Tribune.

From now on, The Linc wellness center's gymnasium will carry Arris Pardolos' name and logos from the pizza restaurant and bistro his family started in Jefferson City.

The locker rooms and athletic offices in the basement now formally have former Lincoln University President James Frank's name on them.

Both name changes were recognized Friday morning with ribbon-cuttings as part of LU's Homecoming activities.

"Lincoln University is stronger thanks to community partnerships like ours with The Linc and with George Pardolos," LU Interim President Mike Middleton said during the gymnasium naming ceremonies.

In addition to the name over the entrance doors, logos for Arris' Pizza and Arris' Bistro adorn the gym's walls.

"As soon as we refinish the gymnasium floor, the Arris' Pizza name will be placed here at center court," Middleton said.

Arris Pardolos started his pizza restaurant — Jefferson City's first — in 1961.

His son, George, now runs the business, and said: "Lincoln University is a landmark in Jeff City. Central Dairy is a landmark in Jeff City. Arris' Pizza is the other one — and what better than to bring two of those landmarks together."

The Linc opened at the end of March and is a cooperative project for LU and the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Naming rights for individual rooms or parts of the facility require the approval of both LU's Board of Curators and the Parks and Recreation Commission — and a large donation.

Pardolos said naming The Linc's gym after his father, who attended Friday's ceremony, was important for the family and the community.

As people use The Linc's gym and see the Arris name, Pardolos said, he hopes they will think about his parents.

"They're the ones who created Arris' Pizza and brought pizza to Jefferson City," he said.

Middleton said: "This wonderful facility already has been put to very good use, and we will continue to welcome current and future students, alumni, Jefferson City visitors and community partners for years to come. And we hope, thousands will also continue to enjoy the best pizza in Jefferson City."

Curators President Marvin Teer, a 1985 LU graduate who later worked in state government in Jefferson City and his native St. Louis, told the Pardolos family: "Many alumni, when they come back, say the first thing they're going to do is have an Arris Pizza."

Mayor Carrie Tergin said: "To take all these years of a successful business and to turn around and be so giving and generous to our community, we sincerely thank you for what you're doing here."

The Arris gymnasium ribbon-cutting followed a separate ceremony for adding former LU President Frank's name to the athletic department's basement space in The Linc.

Frank, 86, is a 1953 LU graduate who played basketball for four years and in 1956, after serving in the U.S. Army and earning a master's degree, returned to LU as an assistant professor and assistant basketball coach.

In 1959, he became the head basketball coach, and according to his biography on Lincoln's Hall of Fame website, he led the Blue Tigers "to four winning seasons, as well as qualifying for the NCAA Regional Tournament all four years."

In 1973, he became the first — and, so far, the only — Lincoln alum to be named the school's president. He was the 14th president, serving until October 1983, when he left to become commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which he led until his retirement in 1998.

While at Lincoln, he also served as the NCAA's secretary-treasurer and president — the first African American and the first college president to hold the top post.

After touring the facility Friday, Frank said: "The facilities — I've got to be pleased. We've come a long, long way. The university has an obligation to provide quality facilities for the student athletes."

But many schools, particularly historically black universities like Lincoln, "do not have the wherewithal (or) the financing to do these things," Frank said.