The University of Texas at Tyler University Advancement
Dr. Mabry Board Letter
DATE: March 11, 2011
TO: Development Board Members
The University of Texas at Tyler
FROM: Rodney H. Mabry, President
Great universities are never stagnant. A change in goals and visions over time are usually welcome and healthy. But change is never easy and not always wished for, such as when good people find other career opportunities that are too good to resist. Such is the case this spring at UT Tyler. As an important and supportive arm of our University, I want you, our Development Board members, to be aware of several recent changes in our administration.
Each change comes as a result of a highly attractive opportunity and believed by each leader to be the best route for their career advancement. I am deeply grateful for their contributions to The University of Texas at Tyler, and I am sorry to see them leave, even though I understand that change is inevitable.
PROVOST AND EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
Dr. Peter Fos, our current Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs, has accepted a position with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center that begins April 1st. Dr. Fos is very pleased to have this new opportunity. His wife, Lori, recently left Tyler Junior College after accepting a position in New Orleans that would boost her career and was an offer she just could not turn down. Pete and Lori are very happy that they will both be “home” again in New Orleans, and, for that reason, I am happy for them.
Dr. Fos brought much to UT Tyler, including championing the important role that appropriate research plays in the life of a university—especially when it informs and enlivens our teaching. His expertise and determination helped forge our new graduate program in Executive Health Care Administration. We expect to keep in touch with Pete and Lori and wish them every success in their new ventures.
As you know, the Provost at a university is an important leadership position because that person is responsible for fulfilling the academic mission of the University. We have begun an immediate search for a new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs led by Dr. William Geiger, Dean of the College of Education and Psychology. We expect to have a new Provost by the Fall semester or soon thereafter.
Dr. Donna Dickerson, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, will be our Interim Provost. She has excellent leadership experience not only as Vice Provost, but also as the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I do not expect us to skip a single beat under her watch.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR BUSINESS AFFAIRS
Dr. Gregg Lassen, former Executive Vice President for Business Affairs, accepted a vice presidential position beginning March 1 at Lamar University in Beaumont. Again, in his words, this was “an offer I couldn’t refuse.” Gregg served UT Tyler with great distinction for five years.
While at UT Tyler, Dr. Lassen had a major impact in shaping the campus. On his watch, we completed the Bill Ratliff Engineering and Sciences Complex for our College of Engineering and Computer Science, a major renovation of the University Center, and the completion of the Fine Arts Complex. He also dealt successfully with implementing a new computer system and took on the increasingly difficult challenges of funding the University. He and his family will retain their home at Lake Tyler, so we hope to see them from time to time.
Dr. Jim Nelson, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, is chairing the search committee seeking Dr. Lassen’s successor. This search is already underway with 61 applicants to date, and we hope to conclude it successfully bringing someone on board in the summer.
In the interim, Sheryl Dennis, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs, is now in charge of handling our budget and financial services as Acting Chief Financial Officer. Her excellent experience includes three years working directly under Dr. Lassen as well as Controller and Director of Accounting at Texas A&M University-Texarkana and Manager of Managerial Accounting Service at Texas A&M University-College Station.
Lt. Col. Jesse Acosta, Assistant Vice President for Administration, is serving as Acting Chief Administrative Officer. His duties already provided oversight of several non-financial campus administrative functions, and will now include our Enrollment Management, Marketing and Customer Service groups.
Dr. Sherri Whatley, Vice President for Technology and also our Chief Information Officer, will now provide leadership for the Student Affairs area of the University. She is an alumna of UT Tyler, and an experienced faculty member. Sherri possesses superior technology skills, and is an excellent administrator. Many of you also know her husband, Tyler City Councilman Mark Whatley.
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH
Dr. Arlene Horne, who came to UT Tyler to serve as Director of Sponsored Research and became our Vice President for Research and Federal Relations in 2009, took a position earlier this month at a university in Georgia. She was instrumental in helping to build a more robust research focus at UT Tyler, and we are grateful for all her many contributions.
Dr. Michael Odell will take on the responsibility of Director of Research. This will be in addition to his leadership role for the STEM program in the College of Education and Psychology. Dr. Odell, in his five years here, has become our most successful faculty member in attracting research grants.
Laura Jackson, Special Assistant to the President for External Affairs, and who coordinates our efforts with the State Legislature, will add our federal relations responsibilities. Laura’s prior experience in the legislative arena is an excellent asset as she takes our message to legislators and staff of important legislative committees. She will do the same at the federal level.
Over the years, some of our best people – administrators, faculty, and staff alike – have moved on to bigger and better things. We would not want to have people at UT Tyler who were not highly-attractive to other institutions and organizations. Losing some of them to presidencies, provosts and other promotions is the price we pay for having outstanding people here in the first place.
My next assignment is to find other outstanding individuals to join UT Tyler to replace the fine colleagues who have recently moved on. It is a challenge that I look forward to because UT Tyler has much to offer for those who want to work at a young and developing University with an outstanding faculty, staff and students. I will continue to keep you apprised as we select these new leaders.
I must say that the strong support you provide through our Development Board has encouraged us to be the best, seek the best and provide the best as a University. It is difficult to adequately express my appreciation of your willingness to volunteer your time and your efforts to make that happen.
I am excited about the future, and I am pleased to say that our Inspiring Excellence Campaign continues to gain momentum as we have just passed the $20-million mark towards our $30-millon goal.
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The University of Texas at Tyler
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Tyler, TX 75799