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Connected to the Community

Cowan Center
UT Tyler’s R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center, opened in 1997, brings a wide array of cultural entertainment through special events, Performing Arts Series, Broadway Series, Braithwaite Series, Distinguished Lecture Series and the Arts in Education Series. Some 26,000 patrons attend the performances annually.

In the past decade, community support has blossomed for UT Tyler building efforts and new programs.

“Ten to 20 years ago, the campus was on the edge of town unknown,’’ Dr. Lunsford said. “Many people in the community didn’t even know where it was. But now with changes like the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center and athletics, the university is more connected to the community.’’

Riter said the recent growth and success of UT Tyler has helped to broaden ownership of the school to the community. “There is a certain amount of excitement that comes with being involved with the growth of a university. That enthusiasmand excitement is infectious.”

Robert and Mary Irwin, who gave a major gift toward construction of the baseball/ softball complex for the Patriots, said their involvement was an investment in the university and the community.

“We felt like this would attract a lot of good students for the university and give the students something to be a part of. They can follow the team’s success,” Mr. Irwin, a Tyler businessman, said. “We are also hopeful that it will encourage other people in the community to get involved …and it is a facility that other teams in the region could use. Just watching all the progress take place makes me very proud to be associated with the university.”

Mrs. Irwin said, “For supporters to be able to see things accomplished in their lifetime is really special. It is very meaningful to see and experience the joy of watching these young men and women on the field.”

Riter’s family has strongly supported UT Tyler for many years. “It goes back to my dad,’’ he said of A.W. “Dub” Riter Jr. “The driving factor for our family in providing financial support, time and effort is our love for young people and our belief in seeing young people have opportunities for education. Whether a two-year or fouryear institution, when young people have the opportunity to pursue dreams, it permeates their lives and families. And it really comes back to Tyler and East Texas. Education helps make a better quality of life here for all.”

From building funding to endowed scholarships and chairs, community leaders and government officials have worked closely together to provide opportunities for UT Tyler’s students. Local and state leaders attribute a big part of this increased partnership to President Mabry.

“As UT Tyler has become a beacon of excellence in our region, RodMabry has provided a quiet but steady hand to a growing school,’’ Nelson Clyde IV, publisher of the Tyler MorningTelegraph, said. “The future of UT Tyler as a key to education and the arts is bright for all East Texans. Rod is an outstanding advocate of a dynamic and wellrounded university.”

State Rep. Leo Berman said, “The double digit growth experienced by The University of Texas at Tyler during the period of Dr. Mabry’s presidency can be directly attributed to Dr. Mabry himself. His character and integrity and the respect he has earned from the Tyler and East Texas community and within The University of Texas System are beyond reproach.

“Finally, he has created an image in Tyler of a great academic institution, on a beautiful growing campus site, that would enhance the educational credentials of any student fortunate enough to graduate from UT Tyler. He has put his heart and soul into UT Tyler,” Berman said.

State Sen. Kevin Eltife said, “Dr. Mabry has done an outstanding job at UT Tyler over the last 10 years.We have seen incredible growth and expansion at the university. “It is a pleasure to work with him and his staff as we all continue to work toward providing a quality education for students at UT Tyler.”

Because of the cultural, entertainment and business benefits of a thriving university, UT Tyler impacts the entire community, Riter said. “There is a certain amount of pride in our local educational institutions. Even though you love where you graduate, the community where you live and raise your family is pertinent to today. The quality of those institutions plays a big role in your quality of life and impacts where you will spend the rest of your life.”

Ratliff said, “A university of this caliber is also a magnet for economic growth. It improves the climate for business and industry to come into the area.”

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