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.

Welcoming Student Regent Max Richards

Last week, UT System Student Regent Max Richards visited the UT Tyler campus. Mr. Richards is a student at UT Austin. While here, he met with UT Tyler Student Government Association leaders, toured our Innovation Academy, and had lunch with a group of students.

It was great to have him on campus. Thanks for visiting us here at UT Tyler!

Student Regent Max Richards, center, and a student group attend at luncheon during the Student Regent's visit to UT Tyler.

Student Regent Max Richards, center, and a student group attend at luncheon during the Student Regent’s visit to UT Tyler.

UT System Student Regent Max Richards and me.

UT System Student Regent Max Richards and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Honor of our Veterans

UT Tyler student veterans constructed the above memorial in honor of those who have fallen in combat. The memorial was unveiled this week in honor of Veteran's Day.

UT Tyler student veterans constructed the above memorial in honor of those who have fallen in combat. The memorial was unveiled this week in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor our past and present military personnel. Every single life in this nation has been affected by the dedication and loyalty of those who choose to serve in our armed forces.

Many of those veterans come to institutions of higher learning during and following their military service. Here at UT Tyler, we have 580 veterans, spouses and dependents receiving benefits. We also have numerous veterans serving in our faculty, staff and administrative positions.

Our Veteran’s Resource Center is honoring this day with a full week of events. In honor of the occasion, our student veterans—many of whom have served in combat—built the memorial you see here to honor those military personnel who have fallen in battle. The memorial will be displayed at various events this week before being permanently housed in the Veterans Resource Center office.

If you know a veteran on campus this week, be sure to thank them. They have not only made a difference for our country, but also are a valued part of this university.

Naming Suddenlink as 2014 Patriot of the Year

We were recently honored to recognize Suddenlink for their years of friendship to this university by naming the company as the 2014 Patriot of the Year.

Presenting Suddenlink Senior Vice President David Gilles with the 2014 Patriot of the Year Award.

Presenting Suddenlink Senior Vice President David Gilles with the 2014 Patriot of the Year Award.

Suddenlink’s leaders and employees have a long history of supporting this university. Most recently, the company was key in the remodeling of our softball facility. When we constructed our softball field in 2006, the goal was to make it a state-of-the art facility. We succeeded. In fact, over the years I have heard many players from other universities comment on how surprised they were to see such a facility at a NCAA Division III institution.

Last spring—with the foresight, dedication and generosity of Suddenlink—we were able to make some key improvements to the field. Those improvements have not only secured our field’s position as the best facility in Division III softball, but we now rival many Division II and even some Division I schools as well. Our facility is truly one of the best in the nation, and we were proud to name it Suddenlink Field in recognition of the company’s great support.

With Suddenlink’s help, we have expanded our press box, added quality seating, and installed a NewTek-Tricaster studio. That studio allows us to have some of the highest-quality online broadcasts and in-game video production in all of NCAA Division III athletics.

That means more people than ever can watch this amazing team, which has taken home numerous conference and regional championships and is regularly ranked in the top 10 for Division III. In the 10 years since we started our women’s softball team, these students have fought their way to the NCAA World Series three times.

Those of us who have been at UT Tyler for a while know that Suddenlink’s support has been ongoing for many years. As the event sponsor for the UT Tyler Suddenlink Patriot Million Dollar Hole-in-One, the communications company has also helped us raise more than $2 million in scholarship funds. That effort has allowed more than 500 students to complete their degrees.

The Suddenlink corporation is a true leader in this community and we are proud of the longstanding partnership between the company and this university. UT Tyler is fortunate to have such friends.

Here a few photos from the 2014 Patriot of the Year ceremony.

Suddenlink's 2014 Patriot of the Year Award

Suddenlink’s 2014 Patriot of the Year Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenlink team.

Members of the Suddenlink team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UT Tyler Softball Player Kierin Stevens thanks Suddenlink leaders for the company support.

UT Tyler Softball Player Kierin Stevens thanks Suddenlink leaders for the company support.

 

UT Tyler Senior Johnathan McSwain provides music at the Patriot of the Year event.

UT Tyler Senior Johnathan McSwain provides music at the Patriot of the Year event.

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Dessert plate featuring Suddenlink logo.