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.

Welcoming new faculty and staff

for blog new faculty

Over the summer, we added around 60 members (pictured above) to our team of world-class faculty. We have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. The additions to our team will keep our student-to-faculty ratio near 16:1 and better serve our growing number of students. We have also added several new faces to our professional and classified staff. I want to welcome all new faculty and staff to this excellent university. We are glad to have you as part of the UT Tyler family!

 

The value of serving the community

More than 100 freshmen recently dedicated a day to assembling meals at the East Texas Food Bank.  The food bank serves not just Tyler, but provides meals and essential items to local food pantries around East Texas.

The students volunteered as part of our annual Freshman Day of Service. This was the largest number of participants in the history of the event. I have also heard that this was the largest single group of volunteers to ever assist the East Texas Food Bank.

During the day, our students helped prepare food for more than 8,200 meals. What an impact their dedication will have on this region!

The UT Tyler family has always strived to make a real difference in East Texas, and I am glad to see our newest students carrying on that tradition.

2014 FDS2 2014 FDS1

What does it really mean to do more with less?

Americans often hear how governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and even households have learned to “do more with less” over the past few years.

In higher education, “doing more with less” is used to describe how universities are required to meet an increasing demand for new programs, technology, services and accountability while also facing a decrease in state funding per student.

In recent years, the state funding model has changed. As legislators experience increased pressure to spend on a growing number of state needs, higher education has received smaller and smaller pieces of the Texas budget.

In 1995, UT Tyler received 49% of its total funding from state appropriations. Today, that’s down to 34%.

One of the charges leveled at universities is that tuition is increasing faster than inflation. While it is true that tuition has increased, those increases are largely due to the drastic drop in state funding per student. In fact, the net result of those two opposing trends (rising tuition and falling state funding per student) has been a decrease in total university revenue per student.

Components of Total Operating Revenue BudgetFor example, according to UT System calculations, UT Tyler received $10,967 in state funding per student in 2001-02. Add to that our net tuition revenue per student of $2,404, and our total revenue per student was $13,371.

Ten years later, in 2011-12, state funding per student had dropped to $6,238 and net tuition revenue had increased to only $4,586 per student for a total of $10,824. We talk about doing more with less. How about $2,500 less per student?

During that 10-year time period we have worked diligently to build the programs and services necessary to provide quality educational opportunities. Our students asked for additional facilities and programs, so we added several buildings, including the David G. and Jacqueline M. Braithwaite Building for nursing, the Bill Ratliff Engineering and Sciences Complex, a campus health clinic and the Ornelas Residence Hall.

We implemented two Ph.D. programs while also expanding the number of graduate and undergraduate programs. We have created the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy.

Just in the past two years, UT Tyler has added new technology to enhance online learning and implemented academic support programs such as peer tutoring. Those of us at this institution certainly understand the challenges facing families in East Texas today. We are working as diligently as possible to give our students the technology and programs they need without putting undue financial burden on those students.

Although tuition has increased over the last decade as a result of the drop in state funding per student, we have attempted to keep those increases at a reasonable level while still maintaining a quality product. Our tuition has not increased nearly enough to offset state redistribution in per-student funding.

So, as you can see, we are truly doing more with less.

Looking Back at 2013-14

Dr. Rodney H. Mabry

Dr. Rodney H. Mabry

During a recent interview, I was asked to identify some highlights of my 16 years as president. I don’t think the interviewer was expecting such a long answer, but it was difficult to limit my response to just a few items.

I realized later that had her question been regarding the highlights of the past year, my answer would have been just as difficult to pare down. Years from now, as I look back on my career, I will remember 2013-14 as a truly remarkable time for this university.

We have had a year filled with great beginnings and landmark accomplishments, thanks to the dedication, hard work and generosity of our university family and friends.

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the groundbreaking for W.T. Brookshire Hall, the future home of the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy. This is a landmark project in the history of this university. I am immensely proud of this undertaking and of the dedicated staff, faculty, administrators, elected officials, community members and corporations who supported the formation of East Texas’ first college of pharmacy.

During the past year, we also conducted our first foray into a teaching model that places the lecture portion of a course online and earmarks classroom time for practical application of that lecture material. The the first year of our Patriots Applying Technology for Success and Savings (PATSS) program was a success. In the fall, we will be offering more than 60 courses in the new HyFlex format—which I have talked about before in blog posts. Before we start the 2014-15 academic year, 56 faculty members will have been trained to teach PATSS courses.

Classes at the Houston Engineering Center started last fall with 50 students, and we are expecting enrollment to double for the coming fall. The center—which is housed at Houston Community College’s Alief-Hayes campus—has an immense potential to help meet the growing need for engineers in the Houston area and around the state.

We have also added a new housing option for our students. Eagle’s Landing, formerly the Village at the U apartments, on Old Omen Road is now the property of and managed by UT Tyler. This purchase allows us to offer additional students the benefits of residential life.

In addition, we have been recognized on a national and international scale for the performance of our students, the success of our academic and service programs and the excellence of our athletics. Students and faculty in chemistry, debate, Model United Nations, basketball, softball, tennis, golf, track, nursing, education, art and countless other areas have earned high accolades this academic year.

Being president of this institution means there is never a dull moment, because there is always something new to be celebrated and fresh challenges to conquer. Area employers repeatedly tell me that our graduates are second to none. That takes a lot of dedication from our students, faculty and staff. We are all part of this small city that is UT Tyler, and we each play a vital role.

Indeed, 2013-14 was an amazing year at UT Tyler. I am honored to be a part of this institution and always humbled by the dedication of those who wish to see this university grow.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014-15 holds.

Celebrating the 2014 Patriots of the Year

Redo Dr. Mabry and Brad Brookshire for blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, I was honored to present Bradley W. Brookshire, the chairman of the Brookshire Grocery Company Board of Directors, with the 2014 Patriots of the Year Award. Out of gratitude for their support in the building of W.T. Brookshire Hallthe future home of the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacywe chose to name all 14,000 partners in the BGC organization as the Patriots of the Year. The award was given at a luncheon on April 29, and was immediately followed by a groundbreaking ceremony for Brookshire Hall.

Pursuing Excellence as a University Man or Woman – a Note to Students – Part 3

In the world of business, many of the characteristics we have discussed in this series fall under the label “soft skills.” That term can be roughly defined as the personality traits that characterize a person’s ability to interact with others. I want to detail from a career perspective just how important is it to develop these skills.

  • The need for soft skills is vital enough that the lack of them in recent college graduates has garnered articles in publications such as Time, Businessweek and Forbes.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has a web page dedicated to aiding workers in soft skill development. It’s aimed at young people transitioning into the workforce.
  • In fact, in a November article on Time’s business website, 60 percent of employers said they could not find applicants with the necessary communication and interpersonal skills.
  • A second survey, by staffing company Adecco, was quoted in the same Time article as stating “44 percent of (employers) cited soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration as the area with the biggest gap.”

Your ability to communicate with others and to perform tasks in a group environment – skills you often practice in the classroom – will have a real-world impact on your professional life.

Becoming a university graduate is truly a goal few accomplish. Only 18 percent of Texas adults have a university degree, 16 percent in the Tyler area. You have the potential to make a real difference in the world. As we discussed in my last two posts, your success will come just as much from developing depth of character as it does from excelling in the classroom.

True university men and women understand the importance of excelling beyond your GPA. If you dedicate yourself to acquiring the skills I have discussed in this series, you will find yourself pursuing an excellence of character that will be vital to your success.

Never quit on a project, learn all you can, and always grow in wisdom, knowledge and skills.  Do those things and you’ll not only have a successful career, but you’ll make a difference in the world.

You will be a true university man or woman.