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

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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.

Pursuing Excellence as a University Man or Woman – a Note to Students – Part 1

I have recently been telling audiences that UT Tyler shines because it turns out well-educated graduates who are “university women and men.”  By that term, I mean that our graduates have important soft skills, productive attributes and positive values to go along with first-rate knowledge of their academic disciplines.

At UT Tyler, we pride ourselves in giving you the best knowledge base possible and in holding you to higher-than-average standards.  By doing so, we help enable you to have successful careers and to be productive for yourself, your families and society.

However, a work credential—a certain degree that says you can be an engineer, accountant, nurse, teacher—is NOT the only thing employers want, maybe not even the most important thing.

Numerous employer surveys show the primary reason some recent graduates cannot find employment or advance in their careers is not because they failed to learn the subject matter, but because they did not learn the skills that have nothing to do with a degree plan.  Those other things are every bit as important as what is in the classroom.

I want to tell you what those other skills and characteristics are, in hopes that you will use your university years to develop them.

2University man for blogThe obvious first attribute is that you are a knowledgeable person.  You have professional knowledge that will enable you to build successful careers.  You are here to learn to be accountants, educators, artists, musicians, engineers and nurses and to do great work.  Notice, I didn’t say to get a “job.”  A university man or woman doesn’t want a job. They want to work.  In addition, you have what is known as liberal knowledge—or broader cultural knowledge—that allows you to work with others and connect ideas in order to adapt and solve problems.

In addition to that most important characteristic, I think the following skills are essential to both academic and career success:

1. A university man or woman can think analytically.  They think things though logically,critically and robustly, bringing all their knowledge to bear in a focused and thoughtful way with an eye to getting to the essence of a matter and find solutions.

2. A university man or woman can communicate effectively.  High levels of both written and oral communication are the most critically needed skills—and the most lacking in applicants—for most positions.  Learn to write.  Doing so helps train your brain and gives you orderly thinking skills.

3. A university man or woman exercises sound judgment.  Judgment is the ability to weigh facts and arguments and to evaluate alternative outcomes and their consequences as part of a good decision-making process.  Haven’t you known people or certain friends who could take information and ideas—even regarding where a group should go to eat—and make better-than-average judgment calls?

4. A university man or woman pursues excellence.  He or she subscribes to the adage:  “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well!”  A university man or woman gives anything his best effort.

University man quote box for blog

5. A university man or woman loves to persevere.  They are willing to give anything theydecide to do “the old college try.”  Even more to the point, they do not quit.

  • “No,” “never” and “that can’t be done” are not in their vocabulary.
  • When challenges come, a university man or woman will find a way to say, “Yes, that can be done, if you do it this way.”

6. A university man or woman is honorable, which includes so many attributes.  University men and women:

  • Care about others.
  • Are civil and cordial with each other in all matters of discussion, debate and interaction.
  • Honor all bargains, even those sealed with a handshake.
  • Tell the truth and never cheat—and help others do the same.

7. A university man or woman has courage and will:

  • Take prudent, well-calculated risks in order to achieve the unachievable.
  • Stand up for what they believe is right and fair.
  • Stand up for those who have a smaller voice, or no voice at all.
  • Tell others (with appropriate tact) when they believe those others are incorrect.

8. A university man or women is a leader.

    • They are informed—they read and listen.
    • They are willing and able to make decisions that consider available information and the views of others.
    • They can prioritize—know the difference between what is important and what can be left for another time.
    • They are engines of action that can persuade others to follow and get a task done.
    • When necessary, they are agents of change.

University man Quote 2

9. They have soft skills—the needed communication and interpersonal skills to perform in a professional environment.  A university man or woman can carry on a conversation (in the workplace and with clients) and have dinner easily with co-workers and the supervisor.woman knows how to:

  • Be on time; be prepared; work hard; and do the very best he or she can.
  • Write cogently and succinctly.
  • Really listen.
  • Be a team player (can get along in, and make productive use of, small groups).
  • Shake hands and look someone in the eye—at the same time.

That is a big list, I know. In future blog entries, I will talk about how students can work to develop these skills.

Remembering Convocation

Dr. Rodney H. Mabry

At the beginning of each fall semester, my staff and I present Convocation to the University faculty.  It is a great time to reconnect with our coworkers after the summer and an opportunity to help define our goals for the year.

This year’s Convocation was a little different.  We enjoy being innovative, and Convocation 2013 was a great example of how we are willing to think differently in order to meet the demands of a situation.  Our goal was to develop a program that was interactive and different from what we have presented in years past.

We are halfway through the semester and so far this has been a great academic year.  Innovation and dedication to student success are vital in making this university succeed.  I am sharing the video and speech from this year’s Convocation to remind us that we should keep striving to think outside the box throughout the year.