Jeffreys to join UT Tyler as VP for University Advancement

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Wendell Jeffreys has agreed to join our team as Vice President for University Advancement effective August 15, 2015.  Mr. Jeffreys will be coming from Colorado State University, where he currently serves as the Executive Director of Development for the College of Business and manages a staff of seven charged with raising $80 million during CSU’s ongoing $1 billion campaign.

Mr. Wendell Jeffreys

Mr. Wendell Jeffreys

Mr. Jeffreys will be an exceptional addition to our leadership team, bringing a rich variety of experience to UT Tyler. He has proven skills in development, fundraising, and personal business that make him an ideal candidate for our next VPUA.

Mr. Jeffreys is no stranger to Texas. He grew up just across the Red River in Oklahoma. Before going to Colorado, Mr. Jeffreys spent 16 years at Texas Tech University as the chief development officer for the college of business (11 years) and then the college of arts and sciences (5 years).

While at the Rawls College of Business, he led a team that completed a $60 million new building campaign, most of which was funded privately. He and his team secured more than $100 million for the Rawls College over that period.

Prior to moving into higher education, Mr. Jeffreys worked in the industries of banking and agribusiness. He was also a partner in a successful company involved in the development and sale of software to automate loan applications and credit screening for small business and consumer lending.

In his early career, right after college, he served as a member of the staff of former U.S. Representative Wes Watkins of Oklahoma. He followed that work by serving as the legislative affairs vice president for Farm Credit Bank in Wichita, Kansas and then Corporate Manager for Public Affairs at American Cynamid in Wayne, N.J.

I am excited to welcome Mr. Jeffreys to the UT Tyler leadership team.

UT Tyler, Home of Champions

The Patriot Softball team came in as national runners-up during the team's first appearance in the NCAA Div. III National Championship series.

The Patriot Softball team finished the season 50-5 and were national runners-up after competing in the 2015 NCAA Div. III Softball Championship Series.

The Patriot Softball team arrived home after finishing as the runners-up in the 2015 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Series in Virginia.  Although this year marked their fourth appearance in the eight-team Softball World Series, it was UT Tyler’s first time to play in the championship finals. The team had a record-breaking year, finishing the season with a 50-5 record.

Their achievement capped off an exemplary year for our athletic teams. During the 2014-15 school year, Patriot teams took nine American Southwest Conference titles, in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, softball, baseball and women’s golf.

In addition, 13 UT Tyler athletes were named to All-America teams.

The exemplary performance of our teams means UT Tyler will once again rank among the top 10% of NCAA Division III schools. Our 2014-15 teams proved themselves champions on the field while also maintaining one of the highest GPAs among university groups.

I am truly proud of our Patriot athletes and can’t wait to see what the 2015-16 season holds.

 

Impacting the Economy of East Texas

The University of Texas at Tyler adds value to this region in many ways.

For blog, Dr copy. Mabry photo to sendWe produce a highly trained and well-educated workforce for East Texas. We attract tens of thousands of visitors each year who attend performing arts events, distinguished lectures and academic contests as well as athletic competitions, championship playoff games, commencement ceremonies and a myriad of other events.

UT Tyler, in so many ways, also has a significant impact on the economy of Tyler and of this entire region! Every dollar spent here goes back into the local economy, encouraging the growth of business and creating a demand for services around East Texas. In fact, the added economic value from UT Tyler accounts for a full 1% of the GNP for the entire region—or more than 6,000 full-time jobs.

Besides being a university president, I am an economist. So it is no surprise that I find a recent study done on the economic impact of UT Tyler both intriguing and eye-opening.

I have always said, and past studies have shown, that this university is a key factor in the growth and economic well-being of this region. However, this most recent study—conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) as part of a look by the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors into the impact of each university in Texas—takes the best measurement I have seen of UT Tyler’s effect on this region’s economy.

Economics infographic.pptEMSI’s study looks at the impact of every dollar spent for university operations, student living and educational expenses, and research. It also looks at what visitors to the university spend each year and also determines how much impact the increased earnings of our alumni have on the region.

EMSI’s 80-page report shows that UT Tyler spending creates the equivalent of 6,035 jobs in this region each year. In case you’re wondering, we employ between 600 and 650 full-time employees. The rest of those jobs are created primarily by the spending potential of UT Tyler employees, visitors and students.

For one example, a row of restaurants has opened across the street from our campus. The location of those businesses is directly related to the presence of the university. I expect that more businesses will move nearby as UT Tyler continues to grow.

But that obvious impact belies the fact that our 8,000+ students (plus faculty and staff) help support restaurants, apartments and other businesses throughout the region. Also, many of our students serve as employees at area businesses.

Here are a few highlights from the study that I found particularly interesting:

  • More than $327 million in added total income is generated each year for East Texas because the university is here.
  • Students who graduate from UT Tyler get a 12% annual rate of return throughout the 40+ years of their working lives for the money they spend on their education now.
  • Society benefits from UT Tyler as well, since those with a university education are not only more productive workers, but also healthier, happier citizens. For every dollar spent on a UT Tyler student, society as a whole receives $8.40 because those who attend college experience lower unemployment rates, fewer divorces, reduced health care costs and lower crime rates.
  • UT Tyler graduates also earn more and require fewer government services. Taxpayers receive a 16.4% rate of return for every dollar spent on the University on behalf of its students.
  • UT Tyler alumni added $208.8 million in regional income in 2013. Those same students, from just one graduating class, will earn a combined $29.2 million more over the course of their careers than those who did not attend a university.

Our university also has a tremendous impact when it comes to bringing people to Tyler. In 2013, when the samples were taken to conduct the study, about 40% of students came from outside the East Texas region. In addition, 40% of our students who are from East Texas would have left the region to attend universities elsewhere if UT Tyler did not exist.

This is important because without UT Tyler the resulting “brain drain” from East Texas would continually dampen standards of living and, indeed, the long-term viability of our region.

Although the study doesn’t specifically address it, we are also responsible for attracting employees to the area. UT Tyler employs high-ability people in high-paying positions, further adding value to Tyler and to the region.

UT Tyler has a considerable impact on this region, and I expect that impact to grow substantially. We continue to have one of the highest annual growth rates among all Texas public universities—in the 8-11% range annually.

That means that UT Tyler’s spending impact for 2015 is even higher than the 2013 numbers reported in the study—and will climb to an impact of two-thirds of a billion dollars annually as UT Tyler moves to its next goal of enrolling 14,000 students.

Comprehensive universities have a positive effect on their communities, and I am proud to see that UT Tyler adds such great value to East Texas.

Celebrating Commencement

Just before the ASC Championship game last weekend I had the privilege of delivering a diploma to Patriot Softball player Amanda Lopez. Amanda was playing with her team on May 1 and was unable to walk during her commencement ceremony. Amanda and her team went on to take the conference title. Congratulations Amanda, and to all of our outstanding Spring 2015 graduates!

Just before the ASC Championship game last weekend I had the privilege of awarding a diploma to Patriot Softball player Amanda Lopez. Amanda was competing with her team during commencement on May 1 and was unable to attend the ceremony. The team went on to take the conference title! Congratulations to Amanda and to all of our outstanding Spring 2015 graduates!

Announcing a new Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

After a yearlong search, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Amir Mirmiran has accepted our offer to become UT Tyler’s next Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  He will also hold a Sam Lindsey Chair in Civil Engineering.

Dr. Amir Mirmiran

Dr. Amir Mirmiran

Dr. Mirmiran will be coming to UT Tyler from Florida International University in Miami, where he has spent the last seven years serving as Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing.  He will begin his duties at UT Tyler on July 1, 2015.

Dr. Mirmiran has a long and accomplished record as an engineer and as an academic leader of a large college. As dean, he currently leads a team of some 140 full-time faculty and more than 200 staff.

His college offers twenty-eight degree programs in 12 specialty areas of engineering, science, technology, telecommunication and construction to 6,100 students.

His college also delivers a number of overseas, professional development, and online programs. His college is first in the continental U.S. for granting engineering and computer science degrees to Hispanics, sixth in the nation for African Americans and second in Florida for graduating female engineers.

Dr. Mirmiran has a wealth of academic experience from different institutions. He brings observations, experience and institutional knowledge from his time with the University of Maryland as a graduate student and his successful academic associations with the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati and North Carolina State University—in addition to Florida International University.

Above all, Dr. Mirmiran is committed to excellence in teaching and learning. We are truly excited about the addition of Dr. Mirmiran to our leadership team.

Breaking Ground on the Alumni House

I recently had the pleasure of joining a group of our university alumni and members of this community at the groundbreaking ceremony for the UT Tyler Alumni House. The Alumni House will be located at the entrance to our campus and is a different sort of project from anything we have built before.

It was a pleasure to recently celebrate the groundbreaking of the UT Tyler Alumni House. Breaking ground at the event were (from left) UT Tyler SGA President-elect Alex Free, university alum Michael Collins, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, me, Director of Alumni Affairs Brittany Childs, and Vice President for Administration Jesse Acosta.

It was a pleasure to recently celebrate the groundbreaking of the UT Tyler Alumni House. Pictured are (from left): UT Tyler SGA President-elect Alex Free, university alum Michael Collins, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, me, Director of Alumni Affairs Brittany Childs, and Vice President for Administration Jesse Acosta.

UT Tyler alumni have been at the center of what we do—and at the center of productivity for this region—since the first class graduated more than 40 years ago. You don’t have to look far to find one of our former students working successfully each day to make East Texas stronger. From banking to nursing, education to engineering, Patriot Alumni are having a significant impact on this region and beyond.

Our alumni can be found serving as corporate CEOs, university leaders, business men and women, teachers, artists, chemists, nurses, historians, accountants and entrepreneurs—as well as government and civic or nonprofit leaders. They are everywhere in all walks of life, and I am always excited and amazed to hear the success stories of those who began their journey at this university.

Our alumni association is rapidly growing, and our former students have expressed a need for a place where they can reconnect with their alma mater. And so the Alumni House, which in a little more than a year will stand at the entrance to our campus, was conceived. We want this space to be comfortable, even homey, and welcoming. And so we are designing it as both a comfortable meeting space and as a fitting first-look, if you will, to those entering our campus.

The building’s 12,000 square feet will serve us in several ways.

  • First, it will be a place for our alumni to gather. The bottom floor of the facility will have three large rooms that will serve as that gathering space.
  • Second, it will serve as a place to display memorabilia, archival collections, awards and honors earned by our alumni, current students, faculty and the University over the years.
  • Third, the top floor will house our University Advancement personnel.
  • Finally, we are building a facility that will be an addition to this community as a whole. We plan to open the building up to groups all across campus, but also to groups throughout Tyler and our entire region, giving our community an additional place to gather and connect with this university.

We have important plans for this facility, and it would not be possible without this community. This university is thankful for those who have supported this project.

Each construction project improves our campus in a dramatic way. This one is unique in its purpose, and I am proud that we are moving forward. I encourage you to stop by over the next few months and view our progress as we make progress on the UT Tyler Alumni House.

Honoring UT Tyler alumni

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2015 UT Tyler Alumni Gala. It is always a pleasure to see so many of our graduates and find out what they are doing these days.

Our alumni are the legacy of this institution, the ones who will preserve the spirit of UT Tyler for years to come.  We have a special environment here, and it just shows in the number of former students who are dedicated to becoming successful and to supporting this university.

Our alumni are truly an exemplary group, and many of them are leaders in East Texas and beyond. From medical care to mechanical engineering, psychology to finance, our alumni are truly adding value to our region and this state every day.

 I was honored to recently attend the 2015 alumni gala. At that event, we honored three alumni for exemplary performance in their professional fields. Pictured are (from left) me, Distinguished Young Alumni Holly Smallwood, Distinguished Alumni Traci Kenner and Distinguished Alumni Dr. Scott Scarborough.

At the recent 2015 alumni gala, we honored three alumni for exemplary performance in their professional fields. Pictured are (from left) me, Distinguished Young Alumni Holly Smallwood, Distinguished Alumni Traci Kenner and Distinguished Alumni Dr. Scott Scarborough.

At the gala, we honored three alumni who embody this university’s spirit of excellence. Our Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented to those who have distinguished themselves in their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university.

Distinguished alumnus Scott Scarborough earned a master of business administration from UT Tyler in 1999. He currently serves as president of the University of Akron. Prior to his presidency, Dr. Scarborough previously served in administrative leadership positions within the University of Toledo, DePaul University, UT System and also at UT Tyler, as the university’s vice president for business affairs.

Distinguished alumna Traci Kenner earned a bachelor of business administration from UT Tyler in 1985. As assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, she serves as the district’s appellate chief. Among many accolades, Mrs. Kenner was given the Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in 1998, 2004 and again in 2014.

Distinguished young alumna Holly Smallwood earned a bachelor of science in nursing from UT Tyler in 2008. She is owner of SweetHoney Clothing Co., a small ‘side job’ that has now turned into a successful online business.

As you can see, we have some truly successful individuals among our alumni.  Each of those being honored, along with the rest of our more than 31,000 alumni, are part of a growing force that has weight both here in Tyler and in the areas beyond.  Our exemplary alumni truly make a difference.

Breaking Ground on the Center for the Musical Arts

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for the Musical Arts, I was joined by elected officials and other UT Tyler administration and faculty for a ceremonial turning of the soil. Pictured (from left) are Vice President of Administration Jesse Acosta, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ross Sherman, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Chip Clark, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, me, U.S. Representative  Louie Gohmert, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Martin Slann and  Director of the School of Performing Arts Dr. Michael Thrasher.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Center for the Musical Arts, I was joined by elected officials and other UT Tyler administration and faculty for a ceremonial turning of the soil. Pictured (from left) are Vice President of Administration Jesse Acosta, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ross Sherman, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Chip Clark, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, me, U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Martin Slann and Director of the School of Performing Arts Dr. Michael Thrasher.

I was excited to join members of the UT Tyler family and our community on Jan. 29 as we celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Center for the Musical Arts. The groundwork has now begun on an addition to the Cowan Center that will provide state-of-the-art rehearsal and practice facilities for our rapidly growing music program.

The approximately 20,000 square-foot addition will pave the way for future growth, particularly in the area of instrumental music.

I want to thank all of those who joined us for the event. It was an honor to be able to address many of our friends and supporters as we celebrated the beginning of an outstanding new project.

Welcome to Spring 2015!

Welcome back to another great semester at UT Tyler!  This is already looking to be a very busy semester, and I know we will accomplish much in the coming months. I’ve recorded a short message to welcome you back and to offer a glimpse into what to expect this spring.

Welcome to Spring 2015!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5B76c9-KdE&feature=youtu.be

Congratulations Graduates!

This weekend, I will have the privilege of shaking the hands of more than 1,000 graduates as they cross the stage. After more than 17 years as president of this unique institution, I never tire of watching the joy on our graduates’ faces as they celebrate the completion of their degrees.

I know that each of you graduating over the next two days has a different story to tell. No matter your circumstances, the journey to this weekend has required hard work and certainly there has been some difficulty mixed with the joys of accomplishment along the way. Each of you is an inspiration to me, to the faculty and staff of this institution, and to this community.

IMG_0452Your hard work has not gone unnoticed, and I commend you for your dedication.

The journey to complete a degree is challenging. That is why I want you each to understand how very proud we are of you and what you have accomplished.

Every employee of this institution, no matter what role they play, is here for a single purpose: to help you get to this day. We are honored to have helped you along in your journey and wish the very best for you as you move on to do more, produce more and help others in your lives.

I know you will accomplish great things, and hope you will keep in touch with our Alumni Association so that we can celebrate with you as you go on to build successful lives.

Congratulations, UT Tyler Class of 2014.